The Better Plan was instigated in response to the Government's IES policy. It illustrated what educators felt would be a more effective use of the 359 million dollars allocated for IES. This pressure of this campaign ultimately lead to the creation of the Joint Initiative, and its princples continue to be a cornerstone of the ongoing work.
The Better Plan for our kids
1Smaller class sizes to ensure individualised learning
Research shows that smaller classes, particularly in the first years of schooling, are beneficial for teaching and learning because they make it easier for teachers to give individualised attention and feedback to students. The Government estimated its plans to Increase class sizes in 2012 in Years 2 to 10 would have saved an estimated $43 million a year from teacher staffing budgets.2 The Government backed down on the proposals in the face of parent and teacher opposition. The introduction of a 1:15 ratio for 5 year olds by the then- Labour Government in 2005 cost an estimated $80 million a year.3 Depending on how quickly student:teachers ratios were improved, a programme of reducing class sizes is estimated to cost upwards from $50 million a year.
2Ensure all children are attending ECE services with 100% qualified and registered teachers
The Government dropped the target of 100 percent qualified and registered ECE teachers and associated funding in 2010. ECE services are currently only required to have 50% of teachers qualified and registered. Restoring funding for 100% qualified and registered ECE teachers is estimated to cost $32 million a year.
3Better funding for children with special needs to support 20,000 more kids
Most students with special education needs attend regular schools and kura, with only around 2,400 learners attending the 28 special day schools across the country. Around 3% of school learners (30,000 children) have high special education needs but ORS funding (funding for children with high special needs) is rationed to 1%. There are also a further 40,000- 60,000 learners with moderate special education needs. Including students with special needs in mainstream schools is the best option for most students, but it is essential both students and teachers are well supported. Increasing the ORS fund to 3% is estimated to cost $180 million a year to support 20.000 more kids.
4Sustainable funding for support staff so teachers can focus on teaching and learning
Teachers aides and other school support staff are funded through schoolsâ€™ operations grants which means they have insecure work and low wages. Sustainable funding is needed to ensure there are enough teachers aides to support children with learning needs and enough administrative support so teachers can focus on teaching and learning.
5Support initiatives that make a real difference for MÄori and Pasifika students
To â€œlive as MÄori, actively participate as a citizen of the world and enjoy good health and a high standard of livingâ€ were goals set by Professor Mason Durie for tamariki MÄori 13 years ago that are still relevant today. Research shows that children who are affirmed in their identity as MÄori and can access their own culture and language are more likely to succeed at school.
Bilingual and rumaki units in schools are under pressure because of the limited numbers of teachers with te reo MÄori fluency.We need to better resource the recruiting training and retention of people with te reo MÄori fluency to teach and support children.
Resourcing for bi-lingual education for Pasifika students has been cut in the past five years. Resourcing needs to be restored and increased to support success for Pasifika students.
More resources and information are on standupforkids.org.nz