“Labour promised to put kindness back at the heart of government. But they scrapped an innovative education model that was engaging disadvantaged children underserved by the state system to appease middle-class unionists in Wellington. ACT will reinstate Partnership Schools,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The state of New Zealand’s health and education services are slipping away from first world status, but with some political courage they can be turned around. This week ACT has highlighted our solutions for the truancy crisis and health infrastructure. Today we’re showing how we can give more young New Zealanders a chance in life.

“New Zealand’s education system is on a road to nowhere. The latest Progress in International Literacy Study (PIRLS) report says Russian children, living under a corrupt war mongering dictatorship, have overtaken New Zealand children in literacy.

“The Government has chased various untested fads like ‘Modern Learning Environments,’ ‘Child-centered education’ (hint, if children already knew what they need to know, education wouldn’t be necessary), and the whole language model of education. When a proven education model actually delivered, it was thrown out as soon as Labour took office.

MartinJenkins’ final report showed Partnership Schools were strongly focused on disadvantaged children with complex needs. Students were largely Māori and Pasifika from low-decile schools. Before attending, many students were disengaged, with poor academic histories, complex socio-economic needs, and lacking positive role models.

“The schools were meeting learners’ needs using innovative practices and high-quality standards. Sponsors were providing a real alternative for students who had been underserved by state schools. The flexible funding model was enabling innovation across the board.

“Student engagement in Partnership Schools significantly improved. Stand-downs and length of suspensions were lower. Students were giving positive feedback on their experiences and whanau felt more involved and more confident communicating with schools. Very few learners were opting out.

“ACT demanded that the Government look at the evidence before scrapping Partnership Schools, but it didn’t bother waiting for the final, independent MartinJenkins evaluation of the model. Partnership Schools were a massive opportunity to improve the inequalities in our education system. What a waste.

“After years of lost progress, and an education system that is not delivering the results New Zealand needs for a viable future, it is time to implement a tried and proven education policy that ACT has successfully delivered in the past.

“High educational achievement has always been a priority for the ACT Party. We would reintroduce Charter Schools. We would introduce a Teaching Excellence Reward Fund and we would prioritise professional development for teachers in the basics, like english and mathematics.”

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