News from Greens
The Green Party today announced a major policy proposal to tackle the effects of growing inequality on children’s educational achievement by establishing on-site community hubs in low decile schools.
The policy, entitled Schools at the Heart, will cluster health, welfare and other support services in decile 1-4 schools in order to mitigate the impact of poverty and inequality on a child’s learning.
“Schools at the Heart is a significant proposal that will tackle the increasingly negative impact of inequality on our kids education outcomes,” said Green Party Co-leader and education spokesperson Metiria Turei. She was speaking at a party event in Wellington’s Waitangi Park.
“The recent OECD PISA education report set off alarm bells. It showed that National has overseen our kids’ education outcomes fall in the international rankings.
“The PISA report highlighted an embarrassing link between socioeconomic status and worsening educational achievement in New Zealand. Inequality and poverty outside of the classroom is undeniably impacting on our kids’ performance at school.
“National’s failure to address inequality is damaging our kids chance to learn.
“’Education is the best route out of poverty but poverty creates an educational dead end. There is growing evidence that poorer kids aren’t getting the most out of school because the symptoms of low income get in the way of their learning.
“Our policy is about removing some of the barriers that inequality puts in the way of kids achieving all they are capable of.
“Our school hubs proposal will ensure food, health care, social services, early childhood education and out of school sporting and cultural opportunities are available to kids who might otherwise miss out.
“Internationally and locally the school hubs idea is taking off. Our policy will provide a massive kick start to the concept in New Zealand.
“The additional support our policy offers will take the load off principals and teachers so they can be freed up to do what they do best – teach,” said Mrs Turei.
The four new core services that will be provided in every decile 1-4 primary and intermediate school are:
1. A dedicated School Hub Coordinator ($28.5 million per annum)
The Hubs Coordinator will work for the school to recruit adult and community educators, early childhood, social and health services and explore other opportunities to develop a unique hub in conjunction with the school and its community.
2. Free afterschool and holiday care programmes ($10 million per annum)
We’ll provide free after-school care and holiday programmes for every child at decile 1 to 4 schools, and we will expand access to Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) low income subsidies to children at decile 5-10 schools.
3. A national school lunch fund ($40 million per annum)
The Fund will make lunch available at all decile 1 to 4 primary and intermediate schools, but will be available to other schools based on need.
4. Dedicated school nurses in decile 1-4 schools ($11.6 million per annum)
School nurses will deliver primary health care to children and their families in the school environment where they are known and trusted.
We will also:
· Build at least 20 new Early Childhood Education centres onsite at low decile primary schools ($25 million)
· Establish a community hub resource centre
· Work with Secondary Schools to devise a hubs plan
“This is a $100 million a year investment in our most disadvantaged kids’ education. The anticipated savings from improved health and education, stable school rolls and better family and community connections will be huge.
“The evidence shows that if kids are fed, are healthy and have the support services they need then they do better at school. Our policy will make sure kids have the basics so they can learn.
“This announcement represents a significant commitment to eradicating inequality in New Zealand and its effects. Inequality will be a specific focus for the Green Party this election year.”
News from NZ Government
Education Minister Hekia Parata says the Green Party appeared to be completely unaware of what happens every day in schools up and down the country when it wrote its latest policy ideas.
“We already have around 300 nurses working with virtually every school in the country and with a particular focus on low decile-schools.
“We already provide social workers for every decile 1 to 3 primary school in the country, under the Social Workers in Schools scheme.
“There are already a number of schools operating as community hubs, so it’s not a new idea, but it’s also not a concept that should be forced on every school.
“With Fonterra and Sanitarium we already provide a breakfast in schools programme five mornings a week to any school that wants it.
“We have increased our funding to KidsCan who provide services like raincoats and shoes for children and provide school lunch packs from donations.
“We already subsidise after-school care and holiday care for about 50,000 children, with assistance targeted at low-income families.
“We are already investing $1.5 billion in early childhood education, up from $860 million in 2007/08. Participation in early childhood education has risen to almost 96 per cent and we are focusing on improving participation amongst the most vulnerable groups.
“The Greens should do their homework. They are clearly unaware of all the things the Government is doing in this area, and they are also clearly in denial that the biggest influence on children’s achievement is quality teaching, says Ms Parata.
“Quality teaching raises achievement for kids from all schools, no matter what their decile ranking, which is why we announced our big new investment on Thursday to raise teaching practice and strengthen school leadership.
“If the Greens really cared about getting better results in education they would back that policy instead of opposing it, and they would do the work to understand what is already happening in terms of providing additional support for children in school.”