Students come first in Labour policy plan

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 05/08/2014
Chris Hipkins
Fairfax NZ
NEW TOOLS: Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

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One size fits all approaches do not work in schools, Labour's education spokesman says.

Chris Hipkins held a public meeting in Palmerston North last night to discuss his party's education policies heading into the September 20 election.

"No two kids are the same," Hipkins said. "Success is about everyone getting the type of education that's best for them."

To help do that Labour would scrap National's plans for specialist teachers and executive principals.

The $359 million this would save would go into reducing class sizes by funding an extra 2000 teachers nationwide.

National standards would go, Hipkins said, as they were not a true reflection of how schools and teachers were performing.

With fewer students in their care, teachers would be better able to tailor their lessons to the needs of their pupils, he said.

Hipkins spoke to about 25 people at last night's meeting at Ross Intermediate, most of those employed in the education sector in Manawatu.

In several areas, such as Labour's plan to help all students own a tablet or computer, and Hipkins' desire to see more support for special needs students, the finer details of the policy were still being worked out.

However, Labour's approach to education was about flexibility and what worked best for students.

Labour introduced universal free secondary school education in the 1930s and the party's philosophy was still the same, he said.

The party's policies were developed in collaboration with educators - an approach that National was ignoring, Hipkins said.

"From sitting in school staff rooms, I know there is an overwhelming feeling from teachers they are being ignored, that their expertise is not being valued."

Asked about the Internet Party's policy of free tertiary education, Hipkins said he thought it was a goal worth aspiring to but at this stage it was not realistic.

"Kim Dotcom's got a lot of money but not that much money," he said.

Earlier in the day Hipkins had visited Taihape Area School and Mataroa School with Labour Rangitikei candidate Deborah Russell.

Speaking to the Manawatu Standard before last night's meeting, Hipkins said such visits had been invaluable in forming Labour's education policies.

Separated by only 10 kilometres, the schools had quite different needs, he said. "Education's not a one-size-fits-all model, you've got to look at what that area needs, what's going to serve those kids the best."

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- Manawatu Standard

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