Education policy and the compulsory teaching of subjects

Written By: - Date published: 10:55 am, August 22nd, 2023 - 26 comments
Categories: chris hipkins, education, election 2023, labour, national, political education - Tags:

The brains trust of Labour’s leadership have recently released a policy providing for the compulsory teaching of financial literacy in schools.

From the press release:

Labour will make it compulsory for all schools to teach financial literacy from 2025, to address low levels of money and budgeting skills among school leavers, Labour Leader Chris Hipkins and Education Spokesperson Jan Tinetti announced today.

“Young people will leave school knowing how to budget, open a bank account, manage bills and save and invest their money as part of a financial skills in schools programme,” Chris Hipkins said.

“We want all young New Zealanders to leave school knowing how to manage their finances. It’s too important to be left to chance.

“Evidence tells us the current approach means too many students leave school without the financial skills they need. Over the past six years, Labour has been growing financial teaching capability through making it a core part of the School Leavers Toolkit and encouraging partnerships with banks to provide education and advice in schools – but more needs to be done.

“Teaching of financial literacy will start in primary school and be taught mainly through maths and social sciences in secondary school.

“All young people will leave school with a core knowledge of saving, budgeting, banking, borrowing, bills, taxes, Kiwisaver, mortgages and insurance.

“We’re setting kids up with core skills that’ll teach them how to save for a home or their retirement; or become the innovators and entrepreneurs of the future.”

Labour delivered New Zealand history in schools by ensuring there is a clear framework in place, within the curriculum, so that it would be taught as part of an existing subject. Financial skills in schools will be delivered the same way, mainly through maths and social sciences as this is where existing resources are aligned.

“Schools will still have flexibility as to how they deliver the programme, but there will be essential learning outcomes at different year levels,” Jan Tinetti said.

“An important part of our plan will be making sure teachers feel they have the necessary skills and resources to teach it, and that they need to prioritise it within their classrooms.

“This won’t be an extra demand on teachers, rather it will make sure they have what they need, including access to existing programmes and partnerships and support through the newly established curriculum centre at the Ministry of Education.

The policy has hints of National’s policy requiring compulsory teaching times for reading, writing, maths and science.  Teachers I have spoken to think that their policy is naff.  Teachers use reading and writing and maths in teaching a number of different areas.  Dedicated time is not required and the periods anticipated are already met.  And the curriculum is very full.  Add to this out of control testing requirements and there is less and less time to actually teach.

Hipkins’ choice of subject matter to make compulsory is interesting.

The only direction of what to teach in the party’s policy platform is a push to civics education.  The platform states:

Greater confidence in our ability to govern ourselves through full participation in a democratic society, such as through civics education.

Otherwise the emphasis is on flexibility:

Literacy, numeracy, creativity, problem solving skills, critical thinking and dispositions are developed from the first years of education … Students are all provided with a flexible, challenging, culturally responsive, creative, inclusive, relevant, and engaging curriculum.

Tacking to the centre and seeking votes from the pro business part of the electorate is an interesting approach to campaigning.  Time will tell if it is the correct approach.

26 comments on “Education policy and the compulsory teaching of subjects ”

  1. Mike the Lefty 1

    I must say that it surprised me that this stuff wasn't being done already, perhaps I assumed too much.

    I don't imagine that National will oppose this the way they kicked up a fuss three years ago about teaching kids about climate change.

    It's OK to teach kids about money, because money makes the world go round, right?

    • KJT 1.1

      I doubt if business and banks really want teaching of financial literacy.

      Too much of their income comes from ripping off people who are financially illiterate.

      Same with votes for right wing parties.

    • Patricia Bremner 1.2

      What is wrong with people? Covid amnesia??

      Why do we expect "this should have been done already?" when all the dollars were fighting to inoculate, separate and assist everyone through covid, or overcome mycoplasma bovis, improving pay and conditions of work.

      Remember the behaviour of the National Party in the past. True, a few of those players have gone, but the pentecostal arm and the money types are gaining power.,

      They intend to roll back all the help put in place "except the small tokens they agree to."

      Once again they will let people fail, and the vulture capitalists will again "buy up our assets".

      Jane Kelsey was right.

  2. Mac1 2

    Firstly, totally agree with civics education.

    Totally disagree, as a former teacher of 'sex education' (we called it 'Relationships' in the Nineties as part of year 10 Health) with National's retrograde policy here.

    Teaching basic home economics can also be part of literacy and numeracy programmes, as well perhaps of Social Studies- the language of commerce, the mathematics of budgets and banking, the ethics, the social benefits, the basic ordering of how societies work.

    Regarding National's policy to pull back on sex education. In Relationships, language, mathematics and science were all taught, along with ethics and social behaviour.

    Every two years we had to front parents and describe the course. The parents got to see and hear from the teacher/s who were involved personally as well as learn about what would be covered. Very few boys were opted out. Many parents indeed were thankful that they were being well taught.

    The result was that our area, according to local health data, kept its teenage pregnancy and STD rates much lower than the national average. The hospital health team said that our programme at the local colleges was very much responsible.

    In response to National's desire to keep sex education in the hands of parents, what we did actually ensured this. Some local fundamentalist parents withdrew their children from that part of the health course and assumed responsibility. The vast majority of parents opted in, because on top of what they imparted as parents individually, there was a good, sound, thorough school programme which continued after I retired as I was also responsible for training the phys-ed teachers who took over the full Health programme. The parents opted in to this as they could withdraw their children if they wanted.

    Certainly, the coverage was better than I received as a boy from my parents and school. I used to tell my students. "I intend to give you a better education than what I got which was the advice "Beware of cars, boys, they're bedrooms on wheels"!"

    • Mac1 2.1

      Beware also of under-researched information! The National party has pulled back on Christopher Luxon's statement and acknowledged the role of schools in sex education as well as parents, seemingly.

      It's a problem in an election when leaders say one thing and then have someone like Nicola Willis who also wanted only parents to be involved in sex education, walk it back.

      • newsense 2.1.1

        Ad in the previous thread ‘Faith is a private thing’ paraphrasing. This spoke Ad!

        Nekkminit, despite the benefits listed by Mac1, and from the article above at the behest of a crowd generously described as wealthy, retired and white:

        “You’re a Christian man. You should be able to speak to that.”

        And there’s a captain’s call that it should only be for parents. Later walked back. Remembering Simon O’Connor and Simeon Brown cheered on overturning Roe v Wade.

        That’s why his hookey kookey on his faith is important. What does he actually believe and how will it influence his positions if he were our leader?

        His personal beliefs and instincts appear much more conservative than his party or the country as a whole. Or as someone suggested in the other thread (Ad- what does that even mean?!?) he’s virtue signaling and pandering to a conservative Christian audience, but it’s not something he truly believes in, despite his statements.

        • Ad

          Far better you look at National Party policies than continuing to regurgitate your anti-religious bile.

          Even you are capable of reading a policy.

          • newsense

            Ah- you’re a snide prick. Wondered.

            Political ambitions I’d say, the ability to mischaracterise an argument and dismiss it. Jolly good.

            Religion is a broad church. Even I wouldn’t dare fight with it all.

            • Ad

              Best not to bring a fish to a knife fight.

              • newsense

                Why because everyone would get to eat and that kind of simple socialist message would sit uncomfortably with you?

                ‘Anti-religious bile’ – well again it’s a lazy way to try and shut down a discussion. Am I allowed to criticise Creflo a Dollar Junior? And while the 2006 doco God on My Side with Andrew Denton seems tame now, it also indicates how some strange interpretations of scripture could cause trouble if they pop up post job interview.

                Personal beliefs that may affect your ability to do your job or the way in which you’d approach it are fairly relevant I’d say.

                Sure it’s not a vote winner to attack, but it may have explained why voters have been slow to warm up to Luxon.

    • Patricia Bremner 2.2

      Oh Mac1 Thanks for a laugh out loud moment.laugh “Bedroom on wheels”

    • Visubversa 2.3

      You might want to look at what they are actually teaching these days.

      Some of it is in conflict with the Bill Of Rights.

      "The concept of gender identity is a belief that not everyone holds. The Bill of Rights Act protects this belief, while at the same time protecting those who don’t hold the belief. It is comparable to how we treat a religious belief, where a believer and a non-believer can work together without difficulty or interference in their respective beliefs, with consideration being given to each.

      Resist Gender Education attests gender identity is a belief because there is absolutely no objective evidence that it exists. It is a subjective feeling which cannot be externally identified, measured, or corroborated.

      A further example of conflict with the Bill of Rights is the statement that the school will take “a positive approach when teaching about gender identity and sexuality as part of our health curriculum.” This assumes, firstly, that gender identity is real and, secondly, that the community wants the tenets of this belief taught to its children.

      There is nothing positive about teaching children that they have a gender which is determined by their interests and feelings and that this gender is more important than their biological sex."

    • Molly 2.4

      "Totally disagree, as a former teacher of 'sex education' (we called it 'Relationships' in the Nineties as part of year 10 Health) with National's retrograde policy here."

      How up to date are you then on the current Relationship and Sexuality Education curriculum which has only been in place for a few years?

      And how can you know about the content and delivery of third party providers, which are recommended by the Ministry of Education without content being available for assessment purposes?

      visubversa has put a link to Resist Gender Education that has had a look at some of the publicly available material. It is worth ensuring you are up to date on what changes have been made, before approving current scope, approach and content.

      • Mac1 2.4.1

        The issue of gender as you both (Molly and Vicesubversa) raise was never part of the course that I taught. It was not ever an issue.

        When it was first raised on The Standard I asked for a reasonable discussion of the issue as I did not understand it at all fully.

        I never got that. Just two sides slagging each other.

        I feel lucky that the only issues I had to deal with were misogyny, homophobia, STDs, rape and consent, unwanted pregnancies, how to use a condom, proper lubrication and how to begin or end a relationship……

        • Molly

          You've made a couple of assumptions @mac1, that both visubversa and I are commenting on people's gender identity.

          We are discussing the curriculum, and giving you some links (without detailed interpretation) so you can update your perception on what is on offer. I've not participated in any discussion on this topic by slagging anyone – and not going to start now – so let's get on with a participatory framework in mind )

          As mentioned, involvement of third party providers makes full and frank discussion of actual delivered content difficult – if not impossible. OIA requests for such are refused due to "commercial interests".

          Given the sensitivity of this topic – do you think that it would be sensible for the Ministry of Education to be both author and publisher of the content delivered to students?

          That would allow both parents and public to be aware of what is being taught and when. This public transparency can only benefit the discussion and the practice.

          While access to current content is so limited, perhaps the only conversation that can be had is regarding what Standardistas think should be included in sex education, at both primary and secondary level.

          As an ex- teacher who has taught the subject in the past, your thoughts would be a good starting point.

          Do you want to kick off?

          • Mac1

            Sorry, Molly, I am retired from all that and don't have the time or energy to argue all this in depth. Your 'tki' reference at 2.4 is a 59 page document btw.

            I fear also that the argument will descend to the depths which we have seen from commentators on the Standard. I acknowledge the passion and sense of conviction, but have no desire to go there.

            I have no ideas about who these third party providers are. In my time we used edicators fro the local hospital public health unit and from Family Planning.

            We did not use any Ministry supplied teaching materials but wrote our own course booklet as the main resource.

            The topics we covered are pretty well as I mentioned above in 2.4.1. I believe they should still be part of that curriculum.

            I would hope that broader topics would also be part of what is discussed at schools as they are all part of how a civilised and functioning society should conduct itself.

            Civics. Bullying. Criminality. Elder abuse. Date rape. Strangulation. Misogyny. Racism. Marginalisation and 'othering'. Road rules and safety. Social media safety. Scams. Fake news. Advertising.

            Many topics. All embraced by such categories as Respect, Consent, Human Rights.

            These can be taught in many subjects and be part of the ethos, the culture, the practice of the school.

            As a last little point of discussion. In English they can discuss the use of pronouns and the development of language to include and facilitate new ideas and discoveries.

            There is a minimum of eleven childhood years to fit this in!

        • newsense

          All of which shouldn’t be thrown out with the bath water.

          The other point is that this crowd Luxon was speaking to, in New Plymouth, surely with descendants of those who benefited from the crown treatment of Parihaka in attendance, would oppose any curriculum with any Maori phrases in it at all.

          This again is out of step with the country as a whole, but Luxon has already done the moonwalk on that one and to his credit tries, unsuccessfully to promote Te Reo study. It is anathema to many strongly blue areas.

  3. Peter 3

    Don't worry about Labour's education policy. They've had a couple of years to introduce what they thought was important. Time is up.

    Think about the National and Act education policies because they'll be the ones in the drivers' seats.

    Charter schools anyone?

    • Belladonna 3.1

      If there is a National/ACT government (with or without NZF support) – almost certainly yes to charter schools. It's core ACT policy – and neither National nor NZF would waste political negotiating capital opposing it.

  4. Ad 4

    This government has managed to eradicate almost all of what made Tomorrow's Schools a revolution breaking away from colonial and punitive educational structures, and just leave a total mess.

    School boards are now in charge of pretty much nothing.

    Decile funding has been replaced with something else less intelligible.

    The history curriculum isn't yet bedded in.

    The science curriculum isn't yet bedded in.

    They've beefed up truancy responses because they can't take education the same way every tertiary education and nearly every employer is taking engagement: operate more from home.

    And now they want to put teaching methodology into legislation and hence enforce it: Hipkins just doesn’t trust teachers.

    Hipkins has been at the centre of education for Labour since 2011 and for what should be a Labour gimme policy area, we have been woeful.

    Nor has our educational attainment improved under Labour this two terms.

    It is not like we weren't warned Hipkins would completely reverse the 1989 Tomorrow's School reforms because he set out his opposition in 2019:'s%20Schools%20reform,other%2C%E2%80%9D%20Chris%20Hipkins%20said.

    Hipkins is rapidly reversing teaching into a highly structured, punitive, institutionalised, hyper-regulated nonsense that no-one trusts anymore. But he gets away with it because every subject is now saturated in pc bullshit.

    Hipkins has been the worst for education.

    • Peter 4.1

      If Hipkins is turning teaching into a highly structured punitive hyper-regulated nonsense that no-one trusts, then he is giving people what they want.

      The loud voices are about not trusting teachers, about control and accountability, about killing the notion of teachers as professionals.
      The best and brightest young people flocking to take up teaching? Hordes busting their guts to get into it and staying there for many years becoming masters of the profession?

    • newsense 4.2

      Saturated in PC bullshit = ?

      You do get on an impressive rhetorical momentum, but then often throw 3-4 unsourced claims and one or two moments of overegging. If I didn’t know better I’d think you were a Rogernome about to join ACT.

      If by PC bullshit you mean not teaching enough that before conquests, courts and surveys turned the overwhelming majority of the productive land over to colonists, there was intra-tribal warfare in which slaves were taken, tribes were forced from their lands and there was some cannibalism? And that this is the most important thing in understanding Maori?

      That seems to be the major concern of the good old lads, preserving a kind of modern day social Darwinistic Moriori self justification. ‘Maori destroyed the Morori race and the white man did to them’ as was previously taught and retaught with more nuance and history.

      What’s your idea of biculturalism? That it shouldn’t exist? That we can’t use a few sprinkled Maori words unless they’re kai and haka?

      And as others, including yourself have pointed out, this latest from Hipkins is, how do you say in yachting- trying to throw wind shadow on National. (It’s lizard brain calculation.) But without a lead it’s struggling!

      And I thought Hipkins had settled a good pay claim with teachers? That always helps.

      • Ad 4.2.1

        If Labour were a friend of teachers it would not have taken multiple years and binding arbitration to come to an agreement. Also Hipkins and Robertson could have completely built good will by simply including a higher amount in their 2022 and 2023 Budget Education lines. Just such dumb governing.

        You can interrogate the proposed new curricula and decide for yourself whether they are saturated in pc bullshit. It's my judgement, but in science it's the same reaction from teachers themselves:

        As for the history curriculum, the debate and consultation was vast since you obviously missed it all. If NZ history is to be taught well at a senior High School level they should go straight to Belich's Making Peoples because that's the definitive modern history we now have.

        • newsense

          Surely it’s on you to give a couple of linked examples if you wanna dismiss something like that. I’ve seen other posters castigated for that and for posting extensive articles/reports when their section only relates to a few places. After all PC is not used the same way by everyone.

          There’s always someone opposed to any change in any substantial field. Seems like they’re going general context to specifics rather than the other way round? Is using climate change as an example of chemical and biological processes PC?

          My experience of the use of political correctness in almost any argument is that it’s an example of lazy and reductive thinking.

          It’s a genuine pity if there’s been no advance or addition in historiography to Making Peoples, which is now around 30 years old. But yes still an excellent piece of work.

          Even when it was brand new-ish different historiography was included in teaching the history of 19th C NZ.

  5. Archon001 5

    I'm astounded that anyone could object to this.

    Every single school leaver is going to have to deal with budgeting, interest rates, loans and credit cards.

    Learning about this stuff is *more* important than calculating area/volume/algebra or learning about Shakespeare and Art (and before anyone rants about how this stuff IS important… re-read what I just wrote)

    This is a core HUMAN knowledge component to live in a society, and have a better chance at a better life. Many kids are not taught this by their parents. Many parents don't understand this (I've volunteered at Citizens Advice Bureau – come at me). There should be zero hand-wringing about this. YES. The curriculum IS full. YES. This is more important than many things that are in the current curriculum.

    • Ad 5.1

      If you taught The Merchant of Venice well, you would bring a classroom to life with civics, personal finance, drama, and gender studies all at once.

      Would simply need a skilled teacher who isn't having their pedagogy legislated.

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