Education and a Lifetime of LearningWe all want our kids to get the best start in life, but in a rapidly changing world, what does that look like? It certainly doesn’t look like what we have done in the past. As well as the 3Rs, increasingly employers are valuing soft skills, known in some circles as the 4Cs; communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. New Zealand has previously performed well in international education surveys, but of late our performance is slipping. This is particularly a problem at the bottom end; some kids from poor families are falling behind and not catching up. We are currently following other countries down the line of greater assessment, and competition based on those results, when there is no evidence that will work. Instead TOP will:
- Invest earlier, in early childhood education. TOP aims to deliver free full-time early childhood education with a particular focus on improving quality in poorer areas;
- Reduce assessment, giving more time for teaching and learning. TOP will delay National Standards until Year 6 and delay NCEA until student’s final year of school where they will have the choice of sitting NCEA Level 1, 2 or 3;
- Encourage greater mixing by stopping the comparison of schools on assessment results or deciles, and encouraging people to use their local school;
- Save money to reinvest in education (or reduce “donations”) by getting schools to cooperate, not compete;
- Ensure teachers are highly trained, then trust them to get on and do the job;
- Review the tertiary sector to ensure it is keeping up with the need for lifelong learning.