Education was the centre-piece of National’s huge campaign launch in Henderson, including a move to upgrade the way national standards are reported to parents.
It is a policy detested by teacher unions and Labour.
And English is expected to wheel out more contrasts in a bid to stop the momentum of Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
English said that in 27 days voters would have an important choice between two very different visions for New Zealand.
“National plans to keep New Zealand moving forward – a confident plan for a confident country, a strong National team energised by new ideas, a team that is open to trade, open to investment and knows how an economy works.
National’s new national standards policy, dubbed national standards plus, will allow parents to digitally track their child’s reading, writing and maths progress in more detail and online – on a mobile phone – and serves to remind parents of Labour’s opposition to them.
Protestations about the move to online reporting have already emerged from the primary teacher union, the NZEI, and Ardern immediately promised to abolish the reporting system altogether.
President Lynda Stuart says it will reduce teaching time and increase children’s anxiety.
English insisted that moving the reporting system online would help teachers to streamline paperwork and allow teacher to focus more of their time on teaching.
“Teachers will have better information at their fingertips to help them develop the individual learning path they already create for students.”
English also announced an ambitious plan to fund every primary school to teach a second language, a policy that is likely to find widespread approval, including from Labour.
Individual schools will get to decide which language and when it would be taught from among 10 priority languages although only seven are confirmed: Maori, sign language, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.
English’s office said there was an expectation that second-languages teaching would be in all schools within two years.
The other two elements of the education package, in total worth $379 million over four years, include incentives for senior secondary school students to pursue IT careers. New digital academies would offer 1000 students specialised IT-focused learning, similar to trades academies.
There would also be new funding designed to improve the teaching of maths in primary schools.
The second language learning policy was a favourite with the crowd of about 3000.
But the part of English’s speech that found greatest favour was him highlighting Labour’s plans for certain new taxes, on water and a new petrol tax to help fund Auckland transport, and a likely tax in the form of a capital gains tax.
Do you want a water tax? No.
Do you want a new petrol tax? No.
Do you want a new capital gains tax? No.
“Hard-working New Zealanders aren’t an ATM machine for the Labour Party,” English said to foot-stamping agreement.
“Or an unstable, untested group on the left that would risk it all with unpredictable and unclear policies.”
Two of English’s six children were there, Maria English, who sang the national anthem, and the youngest, Xavier, a college student in Wellington.
- National standards plus: more detail on each primary student’s progress on reading, writing and maths, online and in real time – $45 million
- Second-language teaching: every primary school to offer second language learning – $160 million.
- Digital careers: incentives for senior school students to focus on IT learning through digital academies and digital internships – $48 million.
- Maths improvement in primary school – funding for 1200 teachers to complete extra study on teaching maths to primary students and extra classrooms support – $126 million.
Source: NZ Herald