TOP5 - Frequently asked Questions

TOP5 - Frequently asked Questions

1. More individual learning plans for kids sound good, but won’t this require more teachers? Where will they come from?

Answer

We are reducing the administrative burden for teachers by cutting down on the amount of time setting and marking assessment for National Standards and NCEA. This will allow more one-to-one work. 

2. How do we attract talented teachers to the regions?

Answer

Actually the big challenge at the moment is attracting teachers to Auckland with the cost of housing! Our TOP Policy #1 Tax Reform will take care of this housing affordability issue. We are moving to more of a regional education structure, which will free up back office resources to work on these issues. 

3. Will TOP make tertiary education free?

Answer

The evidence shows that the return on early childhood education is higher than that on tertiary education, so TOP’s priority is to invest there. Early childhood education also has a bigger impact on reducing inequality and ending the intergenerational trap that vulnerable families are in; a greater investment there ultimately means more people from poor backgrounds can achieve their potential, including going on to tertiary education.  Indeed there is evidence that tertiary education is significantly askew of what we should expect from it – so the last thing we should be doing is increasing demand for a product that is not well enough aligned with the needs of business and labour.

4. What will TOP do to make student housing more affordable?

Answer

TOP Policy #1: Tax Reform is all about rebalancing the tax system to remove the unfair treatment currently faced by renters. Anyone who rents will be better off through income tax cuts and the end to house price and rent escalation.

5. No testing sounds good, but will this disadvantage our students when moving into tertiary education overseas?

Answer

The prerequisite for tertiary education remains NCEA Level 3; students will still be able to gain this qualification. The real issue here is that NCEA Level 3 isn’t recognised overseas (apart from Australia). NZQA needs to work on this issue. 

6. What will TOP do to incentivise tertiary training in areas, which are of national importance, but may have little student side demand?

Answer

The current government has recently put in place better information on the job outcomes of various degrees, this is totally overdue for students to make an informed choice. 

7. Students are leaving tertiary education and are unable to get employment. What is TOP doing to help graduates into jobs?

Answer

The major issue our economy faces is a chronic lack of investment. That is because all of our money goes into housing! If we rebalance the economy then we can get a much better return on the money we invest, which would result in more jobs and better incomes. This is what our flagship policy is all about – of course we need people to think beyond the housing market – something that successive Establishment party governments have encouraged them not to. This is a major cultural change that has to happen if the economy is to reach its potential.

8. Our students are performing poorly on the core subjects like English and Maths. Shouldn’t we just focus on these core subjects like we did in my day?

Answer

The basics are important, but there is plenty of evidence that students need far more skills to be successful today. In particular ‘soft’ skills like thinking skills and problem solving are becoming more important – a lot more important. The good news is that by motivating students to study what they are interested in they can do both at the same time. 

9. Without testing, how will I know how my child is going at school compared to their peers? I don’t want them left behind.

Answer

Teachers regularly undertake testing to check what children understand and what they need to work on. That won’t change, we are just removing all the administrative burden of formalised testing. Our changes will also stop the distortion caused by ‘high stakes’ assessment (where students, teachers and schools are judged on the results). High stakes assessment makes teachers and students focus their energy on learning how to take tests, and game the system. What a waste, when they could spend that time learning how to think. We have to overcome this obsession with testing because it is holding us back.

10. You seem to be staunchly against specialist schools like charter schools and even private schools. Shouldn’t parents have the right to do best by their child, and be less concerned about the plight of other less fortunate children?

Answer

You’d have a point if there was any evidence that these specialist schools are producing better overall results for their students. There is no such evidence. There is however strong evidence that ghetto-ising the residual schools is doing real damage to the students there, entrenching disadvantage and raising the costs to society of the rising inequality that results. There is a case for specialist schools or at least classes for children with special needs, or for children of various ethnic communities. But the trend under Tomorrow’s Schools of “affluent flight” shows no benefit and plenty of costs.

As for charter schools, they could easily be accommodated within the state system – there is no need for them to sit outside. 


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