Freedom to Learn

ACT party

While we have some of the best schools in the world, our education system is a slowly moving disaster. Government spends almost $15 billion on education each year, but the results are highly unequal and slowly declining. This is a problem because it is the fastest growing demographic groups who are achieving the poorest results, and the 21 st century will require more and more skills from workers as technology develops.

Children have a wide range of needs, but our one-size-fits-all education system has failed to adapt and provide every student with a good education. Too many children are leaving school without the basic skills they need to navigate a rapidly-changing world.

New Zealand experiences significant educational inequality. We have some of the highest-performing schools and students in the world, but we also have a long tail of underachievement in disadvantaged communities. A 2014 report by the Tertiary Education Commission found 40 per cent of Year 12 students failed to meet international benchmarks for literacy and numeracy even though they had NCEA Level 2.

Skills increasingly matter, and they’ll be even more important in the future as more jobs are automated. We are sending students into a world where skills matter more at a time they’ve got less of them.

Schools must be given the flexibility to respond to a diversity of needs and all parents and children – not just the well-off – should have a real choice in education.

ACT will:

Provide every child with a Student Education Account. A child will receive $250,000 of taxpayer-funded education over their life, but parents have little choice in how it’s spent. ACT will empower parents by placing this money in a Student Education Account. Parents will be able to use it at any registered educational institution that will accept their child’s enrolment, public or private. Read more on Act’s education policy here.

Increase choice in our education system by allowing any state school to apply to become a Partnership School. Government should fund a range of schools, letting parents and children choose what is right for them, not simply forcing them to go to their local state school. ACT believes we should celebrate diversity, not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

Reduce the number of back-office bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education by 50 per cent, saving $240 million a year. We will put this money back into frontline education.