ACT leader David Seymour hits MPs in new book

David Seymour will launch Own Your Future today, along with an announcement on housing policy.
DAVID WHITE/STUFF

David Seymour will launch Own Your Future today, along with an announcement on housing policy.

ACT has attacked the education minister as a "frenetic grandiloquent diva", tearing at its own coalition partner's jugular in the election campaign.

Leader David Seymour, 34, believes the education system is broken, remembering a friend who was bullied out of school when he was at the "barbaric" Auckland Grammar School.

"Often a school and a student are simply not a good mix but because of school zoning there is not much of a choice," he said.

ACT leader David Seymour describes former Education Minister Hekia Parata in his book as a "frenetic, grandiloquent ...
CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

ACT leader David Seymour describes former Education Minister Hekia Parata in his book as a "frenetic, grandiloquent diva" who "sings her way through speeches".

Seymour is hoping Act's distinctive education policy, pushing charter schools and parent choice, will win votes off National.

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He accused retiring education minister Hekia Parata as "singing her way through speeches", in a new book that he is publishing to launch ACT's election campaign today.
Kiwi multimillionaire and global entrepreneur Stephen Jennings has written the foreword for ACT leader David Seymour's ...
AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE/REUTERS

Kiwi multimillionaire and global entrepreneur Stephen Jennings has written the foreword for ACT leader David Seymour's new book entitled Own Your Future.

"By this I mean she has an impressive facade but the question is, is the underlying policy there to back her up?" he told Stuff.

Parata was Minister of Education from 2011 to 2017. During that time the education system was plagued by problems relating to the $30 million Novopay payroll system Parata introduced, which left teachers being overpaid, underpaid and sometimes not paid at all.

Seymour said targets Parata set under the Better Public Service programme had disguised New Zealand's education problems by encouraging schools to "massage data".

The Government set teachers and schools student performance targets through the programme designed to lift education levels of New Zealand children.

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But Seymour believes the model was flawed saying, "the people tasked with reaching these targets are the same people tasked with marking the students. You do the math".

Seymour said the book's success would be measured by how angry it made politicians.

"And you know what? They should be angry," Seymour said.

"It is a politician's job to improve the lives of New Zealand citizens and we have failed miserably - even when the solutions are not that complicated."

According to Seymour, the country's education system was a mess and one way to improve it was through creating more charter schools.

It was in his sixth form at the prestigious Auckland Grammar School when he realised that education should not have an "a one size fits all" approach.

Charter schools are a flagship policy for the ACT Party. The schools can be run by a church, business or community organisation. They can set their own curriculum, within reason, and don't have to hire registered teachers.

Charter schools tailored teaching to suit students who were failing or performing poorly in the state school system, Seymour said.

Seymour replaced Jamie Whyte as leader of the ACT Party in 2014. He was given the rarely-used role of Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education, and within three years he managed to push through 10 charter schools teaching more than 1000 students.

ACT is now campaigning for more charter schools and wants state schools to be able to convert to charter schools.

Seymour hoped Own Your Future, that's available to buy on ACT's website for $20, would translate into general election votes for ACT.

"The fact that I have written a book shows that I have ideas and the voters will recognise this," Seymour said.

Auckland Grammar head master Tim O'Connor said the school was far from being barbaric. 

"David has probably looked back at part of his time there and reflected on how tough it was."

​"I guess it's good that he was challenged. He's come out better for it hasn't he?"

 - Sunday Star Times

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