New Zealand's manufactured education scarcity

The Herald reports that Auckland's growing population is putting pressure on its schools. Low decile schools are losing students to high decile schools. Parents shift their children because there is not enough of the education that parents want.
A growing population also increases demand for shoes, for flat-whites, for hairdressers and for just about everything else. Yet there is no shortage of these things. Why not? What is the difference between the supply of education and the supply of hairdressing?

The answer is that education supply is controlled by the government. In a normal market, increased demand first pushes up prices. This increases profits and encourages additional supply of whatever consumers want but has been in shortage.
In New Zealand’s state controlled education system, however, supply does not respond to demand in this way. Instead, students and parents clamber over one another to get into schools that they see as desirable.
Astonishingly, the officialdom simply dismisses parental concerns. They huff that the schools that parents are pulling their children from are perfectly good. The problem, they believe, is that parents are overly preoccupied with decile rankings.
The system is simply not responsive enough to the desires of parents and children. The preferences of bureaucrats and teachers unions are given too much weight. It is a cumbersome and unreliable process, as the current shortage of education in Auckland testifies.
Partnership Schools show the alternative. Take the example of South Auckland Middle School. The proprietors of Mt Hobson Middle School innovated and created education that parents wanted. Parents paid to send their children to this independent school. Then ACT’s Partnership School policy allowed its supply to expand.
South Auckland Middle School is taking an education innovation from Remuera to Manurewa. It is the flexibility of the Partnership School model that’s allowed this to happen.

The government should do what it can to draw the private sector into the business of supplying education in Auckland through initiatives like Partnership Schools. The creativity of social entrepreneurs is what we need to address New Zealand’s social challenges.

Independent Taskforce to tackle education red tape

ACT Leader John Banks welcomed today’s announcement of an independent taskforce to tackle red tape in education.

“This taskforce is provided for in ACT’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with National. I am grateful to Hekia Parata for her support for a taskforce that can actually make a difference.” Mr Banks said.

“School leaders have said to me that they spend too much time on compliance.  If they could spend less time on red tape they can spend more time on their students.  ACT is keen to help.

“The Chair, Murray Jack leads an outstanding group of New Zealanders.  They are some of our best thinkers on regulation, governance, and education.

 “As Member of Parliament for Epsom, I am pleased that Tim O’Connor the Headmaster of Auckland Grammar has agreed to serve.

“This team has the potential to make life easier for other educational leaders and that is good for students.

“I am committed to seeing five out of five of our students succeeding.  This taskforce can help achieve that objective.”  Mr Banks said.

More money and new titles for teachers no answer

ACT Leader John Banks panned today’s announcement that the Government will spend $359 million over four years by adding four new titles for educators.

“The collective bargaining system in the education sector prevents good teachers being paid more than non performing teachers” Mr Banks said.

“That is what the Ministry of Education and the unions have together created.  All this announcement does, is do the end run around that.

“Teachers pay is worked out like the pay for the workers in a Soviet car factory.

“The announcement today treats the symptoms of that problem created not the cause.

“It is more Ministry of Education bureaucracy that adds to the complexity and inflexibility of the factory production pay system.

“If a principal is a chief executive of their school why not simply give them the flexibility to determine the salaries with their teachers?  That is what every other chief executive does.

We won’t develop real educational leadership unless school leaders are empowered to make these decisions not the bureaucracy in Wellington” Mr Banks said.

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Dec 6



A life of hard work, honest endeavour and public service


At his media conference this week with ACT President John Boscawen, ACT Leader John Banks said that early in his life he had made a commitment to hard work, honest endeavour and public service. This he said was to try to balance the family ledger.

These ACT values were at the fore this week when he put both party and country first.  ACT he said needed a circuit breaker and a change in narrative.  He intended to provide that by announcing he would see out the term serving the people of Epsom as their local MP, but would not seek re-election.  He also said he intended to stand down as Party Leader at the ACT annual conference on 1 March 2014.   This would allow him to focus on clearing his name.  These decisions would maximise the opportunity for the ACT candidate to earn the confidence of the people of Epsom and the new ACT Leader to build a team to earn the necessary party votes for ACT.    

The next election will be close.   Like last time, he said ACT and Epsom can and will make the difference.  He concluded his prepared remarks by saying he believed in a country where everybody has the freedom to achieve.  Whether New Zealand can be a more open, prosperous, and enterprising nation, with its focus firmly on the future, will depend on ACT succeeding.


Towards a new candidate for Epsom; towards a new ACT Leader


ACT President John Boscawen acknowledged John Banks’  long public service and told the media conference that the ACT Board would meet shortly to open nominations for the ACT candidacy in Epsom and to determine the process for a new ACT Leader.  He said the ACT Board would be considering options to engage and activate the involvement of the membership of the Party so the ACT Board can make the best choice of Leader. He told the media he was absolutely confident that ACT can succeed in 2014.

You can read the Hon John Banks’ prepared notes and watch the full media conference with the Hon John Boscawen here.


ACT the party of principle - National the party of power


Those within the orbit of the ACT party (and those outside it) have been regularly appearing in the media over the past few days on what’s next for ACT.  Most of this coverage has been helpful.  The Prime Minister said on Newstalk ZB that there was a voting demographic that can be earned by ACT.  He helpfully said that ACT’s pitch was putting more backbone into a National Led Government – but hastily added he didn’t personally agree with the pitch.   Former leader Rodney Hide was on RadioLive reminding commentators that there was a process to go through to earn the confidence of ACT members and the Epsom electorate.  ACT had the opportunity to renew itself with a fresh pitch and new people for 2014.  He said it was unlikely he would seek a return to Parliament but one should never say never.

Dr Jamie Whyte told National Radio that what attracted him to the ACT Party was its values; we are the party of principle whereas National is the party of power.  He said he had spent most of his life teaching others about free markets and individual liberty; he thought it was time for him to shift from talking to taking action.  Hear Jamie here.


Tracey Martin wrong on Whangaruru Partnership School


Winston First groupies are certainly an odd lot.  Tracy Martin (Winston’s Deputy Leader) and member of Parliament’s education and science committee is no exception.  This week, she wrongfully claimed that Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru had run out of money and would not get up and running.  She was even more outraged that the sponsors of the Kura had purchased a farm and wanted to know if the taxpayer could recover the property. 

Ms Martin scrutinised the legislation and policy for Partnership Kura, she should be able to answer her own questions. Partnership schools are not state schools, so they are not provided land and buildings.  Other than the non-provision of buildings and land, they are funded for their establishment in the same manner as new state schools.  Therefore the taxpayer has no direct interest or risk in any property purchased by a Kura.  If a school does not perform there are a number remedies available to the Government under the sponsorship contract including the ability to recover money for services not provided.  Just like any other contract.




A sea of debt, a big deficit but they have growth


Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne made the Autumn Statement to the Commons this week outlining the UK Treasury’s view about growth.  He said the UK economy would grow by 1.2% next year, 2.0% in 2014, 2.3% in 2015, 2.7% in 2016 and 2.8% in 2017 outpacing forecasts for Germany and France.  He told MPs that borrowing would drop from £159 billion 2009 -10 to a forecast £31 billion in 2017-18 and indicated that the deficit would continue to drop to a predicted small surplus at the end of the OBR forecast period.  A useful summary of the Autumn Statement is here.


The Wrap


Hamba kahle Madiba

"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, (18 July 1918 to 5 Dec 2013) Father of modern South Africa.

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Nov 22


More Partnership Schools on the way

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced the second round of Partnership School applications on Thursday.  The successful schools in this round will open day one, term one 2015, and they will join the five existing Partnerships already approved and due to open early next year.  John Banks welcomed the announcement.  He said that what Partnership Schools do is give educators greater flexibility in return for greater accountability for getting better results for some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable students.

Cabinet has also given in principle approval for annual rounds. That means more Partnership Schools in the future, assuming the funding is available and there is political will. 

Real parental choice in education has long been a part of ACT values.  Partnership schools make this choice real for more parents.  Only ACT’s presence in Parliament can ensure this choice keeps expanding. Labour and the unions will make every effort to shut the door on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Lines in the Sand

The Surveyor-General has drawn up the provisional electoral boundaries for the 2014 and 2017 elections.  With MMP and List seats there is less drama around boundaries than there once was.  Two key features: change is necessary in Christchurch because the electorate of Christchurch East is down 10,000 with another 30,000 gone from the rest of the City.  Big changes are also in store in North Western Auckland with the creation of a marginal Labour-leaning seat. The new seat will have a knock-on effect on other Auckland electorates, many of which are over quota. 

CCCP boosters will be disappointed.  Conservative Leader Colin Craig would not win the new west Auckland electorate on paper, and has no show now that Hon Paula Bennett has decided she will contest it.  Mr Craig is now hinting that the Nats should gas new National MP for Rodney, Mark Mitchell.  The media are offering up Foreign Minister, Murray McCully’s East Coast Bays.  Mr McCully (reputedly part of the Nat’s Kitchen Cabinet) says he has not be party to any discussions.

The electorate of Epsom loses some of the suburb of Epsom in the south west corner of the seat.  Other than this there are no other changes. The boundaries will be finalised next year.


Yoyo dieting in the public sector

The Nats have passed the five year anniversary of the PM and Minister of Finance working together.  There is no doubt that both Key and English like each other, which is in stark contrast to many of Labour’s senior MPs.   More importantly, it also marks five years of the policy of spending restraint – where spending rises, just more slowly than in the past.  One key measure of this restraint has been to hold and reduce the size of the core public service. The NZ Herald reports that the Nat’s attempt to hold down the core public sector is starting to falter.  

Self-imposed spending restraint is not new in the public sector. Prior to Roger Douglas government expanded and contracted with the political cycle.  Helen Clark returned to this old pattern in her last term between 2005 to 2008.  The latest bounce back in core public service shows that managerialism only gets you so far; the only real way to hold down the growth of government is to permanently hand back the wealth to those who create it.


The Wrap

Quiet achiever of the week

RT thinks John Key does more for women in politics than Helen Clark ever did (can anyone remember any of her Ministers who were women?  What about significant portfolios?).  This week’s award goes to Hon Amy Adams, Environment Minister.  Adams a former lawyer has been given the huge job of RMA reform.  She is also dealing with the global corporation Greenpeace (and their New Zealand Parliamentary mouthpiece) the Greens on petroleum prospecting in the deep sea. She is right; the risks to the environment from prospecting are small.  The potential benefits to our economy are huge.

“All at sea” award of the week

Sticking with the theme, this one goes to Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid, Co-Skipper (there couldn’t be just one) of the good ship Vega.  Yes, Co-Captain McDiamid found the prospecting site and occupied the sea above it…..for all of a couple of minutes most likely.   Time and, more importantly, tide wait for no man.    


Upcoming Events -

  • Tomorrow, ACT Canterbury Regional Forum, Saturday 23 November, 2.30 - 4.30pm Cotswold Hotel, Papanui Rd, Christchurch.  Come and hear Dr Eric Crampton on "Property Rights in Disaster zones" and "WHY we need ACT"  from Dr Jamie Whyte, Author and Philosopher.  John Boscawen ACT President will also be attending and will speak.


  • Tomorrow evening, Saturday 23 November, 6.30pm onwards-President's  Dinner at the Phuket Restaurant, 513 Papanui Rd, Papanui Christchurch. John Boscawen and ACT volunteers will be resting up after a hard day’s work of distributing direct mail to Christchurch East voters. Contact Brogan Powlesland for a booking at


  • Christchurch East By-election - if you are able to help deliver mail over the weekend, your assistance will be very much appreciated. Please contact Brogan Powlesland at 021 129 6391

Right Thinking - the word from Wellington Nov 15


Partnership Schools are on the way

Tomorrow (details here) is the opportunity for Aucklanders to hear Nick Hyde who is the CEO of the Vanguard Military School one of the five new Partnership Schools championed by ACT.  Nick and his family have a proven track record of leadership in the education sector with running the Advanced Training Centre’s Military Prep School.   You can read about the other successful Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua announced by John Banks and Hekia Parata here.

Getting the public policy right around expanding school choice and empowering the parents of some of our most vulnerable students is only half the battle.  ACT’s own Catherine Isaac played a major role in making sure that New Zealand got world leading policy.   Best evidence also shows that great schools require great school leaders.  Come along a join us at the Auckland North Regional Forum tomorrow if you can– you will be inspired.


Goosing CCCP polling; Labour tanks the economy grows

For the past fortnight the Nats have been talking up Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (CCCP) in an attempt to goose his polling numbers with the journalists joining in. For the journalists, Craig has all the potential of being New Zealand’s version of Australia’s Clive Palmer.  That makes for great copy if your beat is politics.  It also sets up a nice pattern.  As Mr Craig makes up policy on the trot; is it a bottomline?  If so, how does Mr Key respond?   

The real take-out of the polls has been missed. Labour’s leadership change hasn’t worked.   What is also becoming clear is that while Mr Cunliffe is bright, he is also lazy.   He isn’t on top of his material in Parliament.  It also comes across in his glibness; what sounds profound on first hearing does stack up on closer inspection.   The more Labour MPs profess to be energized, fired up and good to go the more unhappy many look.  Rodney Hide has a thesis that Labour is still more pre-occupied with itself than the country, despite the best efforts of Mr Cunliffe.

Out of the GFC shadow

Poll numbers are not the only numbers that matter in politics.  Those around economic fundamentals also matter.  The post GFC economy is emerging.   Economic growth is up to 2.7 per cent to the year to June and likely to hit over 3.5 per cent in election year – the ANZ Bank says they see a potential for economic growth at over 4 per cent.  Unemployment is down, inflation, current account deficit, and 90 day Bank Bills interest rates are all up consistent with real economic growth.  With a growing sense of economic security those voters that Mr Cunliffe needs to win are not the stay-at-homes but those that swing between Labour and the Nats; they are less likely to shift away from Mr Key in an election about economic credibility.


Fast followers now out on a limb?

This week Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced his Bill to repeal the carbon tax with Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey introducing an accompanying measure to repeal the mining tax.  While the Bills have to get through the Australian Senate, these taxes are dead. 

It places New Zealand in a tricky position with our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  The purpose of our ETS was to ensure that we were seen to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions even if in fact the ETS didn’t actually reduce emissions.  Officials freely conceded that any drop in New Zealand’s emissions would make no difference to the climate anyway.  No, what mattered was we were seen to be doing our bit.  New Zealand was to be a fast follower not a world leader.  With the moves in Australia, New Zealand is not only a world leader with our ETS we are out on a limb.   Only Europe has an ETS and it is nowhere near as broad or as ambitious as our one.  What is more there won’t be ETS or a carbon tax in the US or Canada any time soon.  Surely being a fast follower now means dumping the ETS?


The Wrap

Emotional intelligence bypass of the week

This one goes to Russel Norman Co-Leader (and real leader) of the Greens and his contribution to Parliament on Typhoon Haiyan.  The purpose of the motion was to express New Zealand’s sympathy to the Government and peoples of the Philippines.  Instead, Dr Norman made it about domestic politics and about the Greens by reading a long highly emotional statement from a Philippines delegate at a global warming conference in Warsaw.   Most in the Parliament thought it crass.  You can see John Banks statement on the Typhoon here and you can make a donation to the Red Cross here.


Standing your ground award of the week

This one goes to ACT’s own Gareth Veale who has an unshakable confidence in his city of Christchurch and his Party.  ACT is a great campaigning party; we will be taking our message to the people of Christchurch East in the by election and to the wider city.


Upcoming Events

  • Auckland North Regional Forum, Takapuna Yacht Club, 39 The Strand, Takapuna, Saturday, November 16, 1.30pm - 4pm, Cost: $10.  Hosted by Beth Houlbrooke.  Speakers include Dr Jamie Whyte, Nick Hyde, and Professor Robert MacCulloch.

    To RSVP, you may register online here. Alternatively, you may contact  and direct credit your fees into the 'ACT NZ Auckland North Region' Bank Account 01-0121-0120885-00, putting your name in the particulars.

  • Canterbury Regional Forum, Saturday 23 November, 2.30 - 4.30pm Cotswold Hotel, Papanui Rd, Christchurch.

More Partnerships Schools on the way

“I welcome Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata’s announcement of the second application round for Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua to open day one, term one, in 2015” ACT Leader John Banks said today.

“Partnership Schools are here to stay.  They will be a permanent part of our education system.

 “I don’t believe any future Government will abandon New Zealand’s world leading model, Mr Banks said.

“What Partnership Schools do is give educators greater flexibility in return of greater accountability for getting better results for some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable students.

“What is not to like in that?

“These learners deserve to be a productive part of New Zealand’s future.  I want them to know that we value them and their potential.

“They deserve the opportunity of a world class education.  Partnership Schools help make that opportunity real for more of our young.

“I want parents to know that Partnership Schools offer them a greater choice to find the school best suited to the needs of their child.

“I am also confident that just as the first five partnership schools are attracting interest from dedicated, committed educators, the next five will too.

“To the PPTA and NZEI unions I say get over it and get on board if you really value education and talented educators,” Mr Banks said. 



Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua: funding focuses on raising achievement

Budget 2013 will provide $19 million in contingency funding to establish the first Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua with a focus on accountability and high educational outcomes for New Zealand children.

The initiative will see a small number of schools established, with greater freedom and flexibility to innovate and engage their students in return for stronger accountability for delivering educational results, Associate Education Minister John Banks says.

The schools will have a particular focus on the Government’s priority groups of Māori, Pasifika, children from low socio-economic backgrounds, and children with special education needs.

“This is about raising educational achievement, in particular for those groups of students who have historically been under-served by the system,’’ Mr Banks says.
“We already have a number of different types of schools operating in New Zealand, such as Kura, faith-based schools, single-sex schools, and private schools.

“Partnership Schools are another option, giving parents and students more freedom to choose the type of education that best suits their learning needs.”

The Ministry of Education has received proposals from potential sponsors for Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua. The establishment of the schools is subject to the passage of the Education Amendment Bill 2012. The Bill sets out the legal framework for the schools.

This funding has been put in contingency and will be drawn down once the legislation passes and as decisions are made later in the year.

Fact File - Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua

  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are a new way of delivering public education which will bring together the education, business, and community sectors to provide new opportunities for students to achieve education success.
  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are fully-funded schools outside the state system, accountable to the Crown for raising achievement through a contract to deliver a range of specified school-level targets.
  • The most fundamental difference between Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua and state or state-integrated schools is that their relationship with the Ministry of Education will be contractual as well as regulatory.
  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua will have more freedom over how they operate, so they can innovate to better meet the needs of their students, and achieve their targets. This includes greater flexibility over curriculum, staff qualifications, employment, hours of operation, and school leadership.
  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua will be in areas where learners are currently underserved by existing education provision, and will be open to all students who apply for entry, regardless of background or ability.
  • They will have no tuition fees.

Achievement and other performance expectations specified in the contract, and monitored through a combination of the Education Review Office and the specially appointed Authorisation Board, will use National Standards and other recognised measures set out in a performance measurement framework.


PPTA calls for its own destruction and the destruction of the New Zealand education system

If the Government were to listen to the PPTA and the results of their clearly biased survey questions it would be the end of the PPTA and the education system in New Zealand.

The PPTA want to take ‘for profit’ organisations out of the New Zealand education system.  

This would mean the immediate closure of more than 1900 Licenced Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres and would affect more than 80,000 children.  The PPTA profits from education, so it is advocating against itself.

The PPTA wants everyone who is not fully registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council (NZTC) out of our education system.  

If the Government were to listen and therefore exclude teachers who are newly-arrived from overseas or are otherwise not fully registered with the NZTC volunteers, support staff, private tutors, and informal tuition by hard working and dedicated parents, siblings and family friends, every education institution would immediately grind to a halt and most could not continue to exist.   This too would result in an end to the PPTA.

The PPTA are against Partnership Schools because of the for-profit, teacher registration aspects of the policy, but these features are already part of the current education sector.   Removing these features from education would have a detrimental impact on the sector as we know it and students would suffer. 

The PPTA also likes to claim that the majority of submissions on the Education Amendment Bill were opposed to Partnership Schools.  But, the vast majority of the submissions received by the Education and Science Select Committee received were 'form submissions' from the PPTA, NZEI and their Union affiliates.  Excluding these left a balanced pool of properly considered submissions.

Partnership schools, known overseas as charter schools or free schools, are not an experiment.  Evidence has shown that the best models of charter/free schools have been very successful in raising achievement for students from disadvantaged areas and those with English as a second language.   They were first started 20 years ago in the United States by... you guessed it... the teachers unions.

The PPTA is clearly not much concerned about poor educational outcomes from failing public schools.  It is not plausible that it is terrified that some partnership schools might fail; it is more plausible that it is terrified that greater parental choice might improve outcomes.

The PPTA survey can be found here

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski Confused

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski seems to be confused. 

In a press release today (here), she has used the words ‘irresponsible and reckless’ to describe education where for-profit organisations can employ a percentage of fully registered teachers and are not subject to the Official Information Act (OIA).

What she has described is the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector she works in.

Around 43% of ECE centres are run by for-profits, only a percentage of teachers need to be registered and these are not Crown Entities so are not subject to the OIA.

Is she saying the for-profit ECE centres are inferior?

Does she not value the contribution of the ECE teachers who are not fully registered?

Does she want ECE centres to be subject to the OIA?