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Shearer – excellent education speech

Written By: - Date published: 2:46 pm, September 9th, 2012 - 114 comments
Categories: david shearer, education, labour, schools - Tags: ,

David Shearer’s education speech today was excellent in every way. Core Labour values, a sound understanding of the issues, significant concrete policy, and the promise of more to come.

This is the kind of speech that I as a Labour Party supporter want to hear more of. After watching National mess up education at every level, this is the kind of speech that I as a teacher needed to hear. Here it is in a nutshell:

Under Labour, the world’s best education will be available at your local school.

It’s a big goal, and it will take time to get there, but it is the right goal. Education isn’t the short term answer to anything – but it is the long term answer to everything. By every measure better educated countries are more successful countries. Hey Labour – we could do worse than to look to Finland for direction…

Shearer set out a big policy promise, targeting one of the huge disadvantages that kids from poor families have in education:

Labour will be more hands-on, partnering with communities and voluntary organizations to put free food in all decile 1 to 3 schools that want and need it.

Excellent. Given the massive link between poverty and educational achievement this one programme alone will do far more to improve outcomes than the Nats’ misguided and discredited “national standards”. Here’s a few more highlights from the speech, including a commitment to reading recovery in all schools:

National is systematically undermining the very values that make our education system great . They are peddling tired ideas that don’t work, copied from countries that rank far below us.

We won’t agree to National’s plan to set up Charter Schools – funded with taxpayer dollars – whether they’re run by Brian Tamaki the Maharishi yogi, or whoever.

Reading recovery has an 80% success rate. It’s the gold standard. Devised by Marie Clay it’s been exported all over the world. Yet it’s not universally available here. So the starting point should be to extend Reading Recovery to every school in the country. … We also need to devise a similar maths recovery intervention.

There are ways to lift our education system and I will make it happen. We start by valuing what we have. Listening to those who know. Education is an investment in our future. It is not a cost. And in the Labour Party we take that to heart.

A good day for Labour.


114 comments on “Shearer – excellent education speech”

  1. fabregas4 1

    I’ve struggled to like Shearer – but he just won my vote back! And even more – he is right in every way.

    • mike e 1.1

      Add Science wouldn’t be a bad idea either

      • Dr Terry 1.1.1

        Reading recovery, maths recovery, add science recovery . . . For heavens sake, what we need is TOTAL RECOVERY, full stop!! I can’t be sure that we are not hearing rhetoric from Shearer, maybe I am a cynic, but I shall need a great deal more convincing and consistency yet.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    Labour will be more hands-on, partnering with communities and voluntary organizations to put free food in all decile 1 to 3 schools that want and need it.

    Better to do the simple thing and build a food hall in every school where the children can get free meals.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      And help to prepare food.

      • Jim Nald 2.1.1

        CV said “And help to prepare food” …

        Perhaps, to that, can add: And have some hands-on learning experience about how to grow food as well.

    • mac1 2.2

      Don’t need to build a food hall which would be huge. Do as I saw the Japanese did 7 years back- free nutritious lunch served by the kids to their own class in their home room wheeled in on a trolley and then the classroom cleaned up afterwards by the kids.

      Tried two of the meals- about 700 calories- interesting, healthy, tasty.

      For every Japanese child.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1

        Don’t need to build a food hall which would be huge.

        Only if you didn’t stagger classes through it.

        • mac1

          Hungry kids if you have a hall for say 100 seated and you have 500 kids to feed. 20 minutes per sitting. Lunchtime for some at 1.30 when used to it at 12. Could be wrong, though. Have you seen it done?

          Staggering classes around lunchtime would involve some problems for schools, I suspect.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Hungry kids if you have a hall for say 100 seated and you have 500 kids to feed.

            You’d probably want no more than 3 sittings to fit within a lunch hour.

            Have you seen it done?

            No but it’s a logical solution to the problem you brought up.

            Lunchtime for some at 1.30 when used to it at 12.

            Kids are adaptable.

            Staggering classes around lunchtime would involve some problems for schools, I suspect.

            I’m sure that they could handle it.

            • McFlock

              I suppose we could always look at the countries where they do provide school lunches cooked on site, free or otherwise.

              • Colonial Viper

                They do in private boarding schools up and down the country for gawds sakes

                • Ed

                  Boarding Schools also do breakfast – but only for boarders. I suspect free breakfast is at least as important as lunch for many children.

                  The caveat of providing this “that want and need it” is important – but equally there are some in need that go to schools that are not decile 1 to 3 – there need to be ways schools can arrange assistance wherever need is identified.

                  A good Labour initiative – with better income distribution hopefully reducing the need for such assistance over time.

          • Tracey

            Couldn’t they just have a cup of soup in a cup to have outside or in their classroom on a raining day, or a box handed out at lunchtime to have outside or in their classroom when

    • Fisiani 2.3

      Typical Labour.
      We will give your kids food and force the parents who do feed their kids and pay tax pay for it.
      We will expect you to vote for us in return.
      Nothing that Labour ever does is for the betterment of New Zealand.
      Every policy is measured by “How many votes will this gain for Labour”
      Absolutely typical Labour. Not a word about growing the economy or the responsibility of parents.

      • mike e 2.3.1

        Fisanal leaving the $ 6 billion drag on our economy fizzing away is dunb but not as dumb as your thinking punishing the children is just abuse and thats what you are is a child abuser and neglector!
        Redneck shallow narciscisstic that you and your ilk fisiani.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.3.2

        What a load of bollocks fisi.

        We will give your kids food and force the parents who do feed their kids and pay tax pay for it.

        The parents who don’t feed their kids don’t choose to do that – they’re just not paid enough because some arse-holes feel that they need to be paid far too much.

        Nothing that National/Act ever does is for the betterment of New Zealand.
        Every policy is measured by “How many votes will this gain for National/Act


        Not a word about growing the economy or the responsibility of parents.

        Really? I’m sure that improving education will grow the economy. Not that I think growing the economy is a valid option but a well educated populace will develop society and understand why we need a stable state economy.

        • Fisiani

          Fisiani not fisi. Ad hominen 2

          [It’s common to use a shortened version of a nom when replying. For instance I’m usually referred to as RL.]

          • mike e

            Punish those who aren’t able to respond you are a cowardly bully fisianl

            • Fisiani

              Ad hominen 3. Wow
              Still no rebuttal.

              • RedLogix


                You claim that there a lot of parents who choose not to feed their children. Evidence please.

                • Fisiani

                  If I said that the Pope was a Catholic would you ask for evidence?
                  Some statments are so self evident that asking for evidence is insulting.

                  • mike e

                    Fisi he was a nazi and covered up pedeophilia in the catholic church
                    And your a pathetic intellectually vacant bullying pedantic trool.
                    so why is Finland at the top of the education pile.
                    So next your going to blame the children for having poor parents thats big of you!

                    • Fisiani

                      Not the old canard. The Pope is German. The young man was a member of the Hitler youth. Calling him a Nazi shows that you are simply misguided.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      So apart from your Papal distraction Fisi, where’s your evidence?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Hey Fisi

                    The Government needs to be providing paid jobs for every unemployed parent who wants one. Time to stump up mate.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Hey Fisi you are a sad sack for not assuming that the vast majority of parents do the absolute best that they can for their kids, in the circumstances National put them in.

              • Draco T Bastard

                They must be awesome blinders, he can’t actually read anything that proves him wrong.

                BTW, just calling something ad hominem doesn’t make it so.

      • muzza 2.3.3

        Absolutely typical Labour. Not a word about growing the economy or the responsibility of parents.

        Given your posts on here I’ll assume you don’t know what growth “actually” is, but you would lap it up all day long if Key was lying to you about “more jobs more gowth”, eh bro!

        Oh and just where are those jobs, and growth, and that brighter future….

        Can’t tell if you are the level of recourse that the tr*ll employers get these days, and just no good at it, or if you are just really fucken stupid!

        • Fisiani

          Ad hominen 7.

          • Colonial Viper


            • McFlock

              I dunno – I find it quite endearing that our local toryboys will say that every hungry child is hungry by the choice of the parents, then enumerate every real and imagined “ad hominen”.
              Seriously, this shit is impossible to make up.

          • mike e

            fisianal retentive you use your logic to push your prejudice.
            You are the type of person who doesn’t experience emotions vacant in other words.

      • mike e 2.3.4

        so leave these defenceless kids unfed while other children eat infront of them.
        let the teachers try and get these children to concentrate instead of teaching.
        heartless bastard.

      • Tracey 2.3.5

        Can you correct your typo in this post Fisiani, you accidentally wrote Labour instead of National.

        pop out into the real, fact based world. Many of the parents skipping brekkie for their children have chosen which meal the children can’t have due to lack of money. Many of those parents have only one meal a day themselves, if that, on those days. Before you ask me for proof, provide your proof that it’s a lack of responsibility that has resulted in the skipping of breakfast for the majority in this position?

  3. Dv 3

    national standards?

  4. blue leopard 4

    This speech is heartening to hear. Finally one of our 2 (traditionally) main parties speaking some sense. (Greens becoming a major party too now)

    “I want to see kids getting early advice about the path that interests them, leadership training, life skills, civics that follows their time at secondary school.”

    Civics is mentioned! Does this sentence mean that Labour are really considering introducing civics into our education? That would be EXCELLENT!!!!

    I am most heartened by the positive tone of this speech and am very partial to the ideas expressed in the “Transitions” section, which I feel would create particularly positive effects for students (and positive flow on effect for our country).

    Good stuff. Thank you Mr Shearer and your new advisor.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Civics is mentioned! Does this sentence mean that Labour are really considering introducing civics into our education? That would be EXCELLENT!!!!

      This would be very nice indeed.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Quoting his speech:

    And equip New Zealand with the best talent it needs to prosper in a 21st century world.

    But I bet he’s still thinking that a 21st century NZ is a farm.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Well, very large parts of it will be, won’t it?

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        There’s a difference between large parts of NZ being farmland and farming being the mainstay of the economy. I think that Shearer and Labour will still think of farming being the mainstay. The problem with this thinking is a) it doesn’t develop our society and b) the ongoing pollution of our environment.

      • blue leopard 5.1.2

        “But I bet he’s still thinking that a 21st century NZ is a farm.”

        Actually, I just read a link that Pete gave in the ‘Something Amiss…’ thread, which was a transcript of a ‘Q&A Show late last year and contained Shearer saying:

        “First of all, I think trying to bring the party in line with research and development. I feel very passionately about New Zealand being not only clean and green but clever and talented, and I’ve been out to see a number of companies that are doing remarkable things. We cannot double our dairy industry. We have to use our brains and our talent to be able to drive through those innovative companies that are out there. And going around and seeing those companies and getting that on the table in our caucus has been possibly the most important thing that I’ve done.”


  6. Blue 6

    Finally there is some sense coming out of the Labour Party.

    Good stuff. I hope it continues 😀

  7. tc 7

    Encouraging, now please ensure that the education spokesperson nails the vacuous and arrogant Tolley/parata double down, also highlighting the money Clarks era put in compared to what shonkeys lot have done.

    Leaky schools v RONS etc

  8. chris73 8

    “Shearer also said he wanted to introduce ”clear and easy to understand school report cards so that parents know whether their child’s school is up to scratch”.

    In my (always) humble opinion Shearer is starting to get on a roll. His viewpoint on the roof painter was spot on and this is an excellent idea (I’ve always wondered why we don’t do school lunches like the USA or England)

    Hopefully Team Cunliffe will stop agitating and start supporting their leader. This is what will win Labour the next election.

  9. dancerwaitakere 9

    More of the 1/5 students failing MYTH.

    More of Labour buying into the Tories lines.

    More of an out of touch opposition that will lose the teacher vote.

    • blue leopard 9.1

      @ dancerwaitakere

      How is this speech out of touch? Would you explain further?

      • dancerwaitakere 9.1.1

        Shearer fails to understand divergent learning, and instead uses the 1/5 failing line to paint our teachers and schools as failures as well.

        He does not understand that the modern classroom has a number of children with learning disabilities, a number of ESOL children, and instead the “problem” is pigeon holed as being a Maori and Pacific problem.

    • Lanthanide 9.2

      Technically if a fail is 50% or less, and the tests are weighted, then it’s 1/2 that are failing.

    • Vicky32 9.3

      More of an out of touch opposition that will lose the teacher vote.

      Speaking as a teacher, I have to say that I don’t agree…

  10. Pete 10

    Between ditching John Pagani and this I am starting to warm to Shearer. It’s a good time to announce it too with Key out of the country and Hekia Parata too weak a politician to run an effective counter-argument by herself.

  11. It shows the pagani’s had such a detrimental impact on labour’s policies and now that
    the wolf has left the hen house,the hens are finding peace again.
    I am pleased to see shearer putting badly needed policies out there and they will be largely
    accepted and rejoiced by those who are labour grass-roots voters,the heart of labour
    has started beating again,long may it continue.
    If shearer continues on this path that may bring back those labour voters
    who turned away or didn’t bother to vote.
    But i am still a Cunliffe fan.

    • Pete 11.1

      Oh I’m certainly part of Team Cunliffe too, but time is starting to run short. If by the middle of next year Shearer is still leader, I’m going to quit my griping. The last thing Labour needs is to be in complete disarray as an election looms on the horizon – both in bedding down a new team and placating the losing faction and in sorting out their policy platform.

    • Bill 11.2

      starlight. What policies? All I read was that national are crap at education (true) and that labour won’t do what national are doing. But nothing about what labour will actually do! You know, speeching away kind of amorphously about how you want ‘great things’ and pointing out the fucking obvious about the guys in charge at the moment, isn’t policy.

      • starlight 11.2.1

        2 policies within the education framework is a good start,they are ‘free food for kids in
        low decile schools, reading recovery in schools,it represents the bigger picture of labour
        returning to the base,at least thats the hope,rome wasn’t built in a day,policies dont get
        built in a day,watch this space.

      • Dr Terry 11.2.2

        How startlingly little it takes for disenchanted people to jump straight back on to his bandwagon!
        Let’s wait for a few consistent speeches (with concrete intentions and plans) – I sense an awful lot of wishful thinking going on!

        • Murray Olsen

          Agreed, Dr. Terry. Nothing concrete has actually changed yet. I’d personally want an apology for introducing and promoting neoliberalism over the last three decades, for a start.

  12. Craig Glen Eden 12

    The speech was poor, delivery almost useless. Shearer sadly is not getting better. His messages are mixed. This guy needs lessons real fast from say Brian Edwards! Im seriously close to resigning from Labour.
    Never thought that would be the case but seriously Labour are in trouble.

  13. Ac 13

    This is much more promising. Common sense here and no hidden agendas. Hypocrisy seems to be the best word to describe the governments plans for education at the moment. Need more skilled teachers, then we need chartered schools with unqualified teachers, larger class sizes then as they are, what the hell is going on, whose setting policy direction – a drunken sailer?? Good on you Shearer, some clear and precise direction for helping our children succeed.

  14. Bill 14

    Sorry to burst bubbles and all. But there is absolutely nothing of substance in that speech. Nothing at all. Go and read it. Apart from signposting private charity as a solution to meals in schools (wtf?), and reinforcing the b/s that only ‘winners’ count with the ‘nobody asks losers for advice’ olympics nugget, there’s the usual repeat jobs of ‘come back later’ and ‘we will be thinking about it’ and ‘we really want to listen to you…(until you say something)’

    Over the coming months I’ll be releasing a range of ideas for discussion.

    I want to hear from you. I want to hear ideas from parents, teachers, principals and our kids.

    I will outline some of our thinking in the weeks ahead.

    So I want to look at ways we can make that happen. I’ll be coming back with some specific ideas about this later.

    • Pete 14.1

      Apart from signposting private charity as a solution to meals in schools (wtf?),

      The alternative mode of delivery is building the catering facilities within a school to provide food for the kids. Contracting charities to do it might be better because: 1) profit wouldn’t be a motive unlike PPPs, 2) Food only needs to be prepared at a few locations and be delivered to schools, making a programme more efficient and 3) any new facilities funded by the programme could be used outside school hours to feed the poor and destitute.

      • Bill 14.1.1

        I think your dreamin’ a bad dream Pete. Tell me what’s wrong with building these facilities at ‘the few’ locations you mention and hiring people on full time fucking jobs to do the food prep and delivery? 100% government funded. Got to be more ‘efficient’ or whatever other buzz word, than funding fucking charities and paying people who would otherwise be engaged in paid employment, the fucking dole.

        • Carol

          Tell me what’s wrong with building these facilities at ‘the few’ locations you mention and hiring people on full time fucking jobs to do the food prep and delivery?

          Used to do that at schools where I worked in London. Now I think the food was better than no food…. but… the food tended to sit steaming in big closed tins…. stewed cabbage etc, was not very appetising.

          • Bill

            My primary and secondary schools both provided two course meals for all us kids. Primary school dinners were nothing to write home about. But at secondary school they provided a half decent menu. And as I recall the food was pretty good…even healthy by todays standards. And all cooked on the premises by employed staff. They weren’t all free. But for those from families who could pay, it was a far better option than the shameful (as considered in those days) packed lunch…and probably as cheap if not cheaper. And kids from poorer families got their meals free. So what would be wrong with free meals for kids whose families have community service cards and merely partly subsidised for the rest?

            • Carol

              Don’t get me wrong, I think school meals are a great idea, but best prepared on the premises. In the London schools where I taught,the children couldn’t tell who was getting a free meal and who was paying.

              I also ate many, many school meals in my time teaching in London. (though custard on most deserts was beyond what I could stomach…. hot custard on jelly?)

        • Vicky32

          funding fucking charities and paying people who would otherwise be engaged in paid employment, the fucking dole.

          Just my twopence worth – but dropping cluster F bombs doesn’t emphasise what you say, it detracts from it. All I can think is Tourettes much? Just saying…

      • Draco T Bastard 14.1.2

        Contracting charities to do it might be better because: 1) profit wouldn’t be a motive unlike PPPs,

        Why would anyone in their right mind use charities or PPPs when a direct government service is more efficient?

        2) Food only needs to be prepared at a few locations and be delivered to schools,

        I suggest you tell that to Maccas. Actually, what Maccas use is pre-prepared food which is then cooked and assembled at the store. This model would probably be the best option.

        3) any new facilities funded by the programme could be used outside school hours to feed the poor and destitute.

        I don’t see why the food halls at a school couldn’t be used for that.

    • Blue 14.2

      There are two substantial pieces amongst the usual waffle.

      One – Extending the reading recovery programme to every school in the country.

      Two – Providing Government funding to assist charities to get free meals into all decile 1-3 schools.

      Both of those are good, solid, concrete actions that Labour is promising to take and that will make a difference to children’s education and opportunities in life.

      It’s a start in the right direction.

      • Dr Terry 14.2.1

        It is pretty sad when the best we can say of Shearer after quite some time now, is that this is “a start in the right direction”. Good grief!!

  15. Craig Glen Eden 15

    Exactly Bill I have seen year 8 kids deliver better speeches. Honestly.

  16. Southern Labourite 16

    Great to see David Shearer present his skills, talents and most importantly leadership. He’s picked up the ball on the issue of education, and not only has he picked it up but he kicked it into the goal. It’s good that he’s given something not only for the media to chew on but National as well.

    Labour doesn’t have to have all the answers, but that doesn’t mean it has to be on the back foot.

    • Craig Glen Eden 16.1

      “Kicked it into a goal” yeah his own goal sadly.

      • mike e 16.1.1

        Just seen TV, Shearer much better delivery excellent.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          How sad mike e that you actually think it was better, shit! The journalists sitting behind me obviously missed some thing then.

          • mike e

            What ever TV3 sound bites were perfect 90% pass for me the best I’ve seen from Shearer.
            What channel were you watching.
            This will be a confidenc boost for Shearer which is what he needed.

            • Craig Glen Eden

              I was there .

              • Colonial Viper

                Bunch of people around here seem to have lowered their standards to knee height.

                Peeps. Please stay real. On a bad day Goff can deliver a speech TEN TIMES more ROUSING than Shearer can on a great day.

                • blue leopard

                  …yeah admittedly I think Dr Terry probably got it quite right:

                  “How startlingly little it takes for disenchanted people to jump straight back on to his bandwagon!
                  Let’s wait for a few consistent speeches (with concrete intentions and plans) – I sense an awful lot of wishful thinking going on!” (11.2.2)

                  It is nice to see something more confident being said though.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I wonder if people here think that Shearer can do anything more than read off a teleprompter. Certainly the expectations seem to start and stop there.

                • felix

                  Damn straight CV.

                  He’s not the messiah, he’s a man who just about managed to do his fucking job at the minimum required level of competence for exactly one day in a row!

    • Dr Terry 16.2

      Well, SL, I can only say that I am happy for you.

  17. Raymond A Francis 17

    Great stuff, I was wondering about the 40,000 hungry school children
    A bit of a search shows that was the number of children being feed a year ago which would suggest the need is going to be a few more than that now

    The only real figures I could find were a Health dept report from 2002 that suggested 83000 went to school without eating breakfast. that was not to say they went hungry because as we know in the real world some make a choice not to eat but it still is a big number that will have only got bigger over the last 10 years
    I do have to wander why Labour didn’t do anything then

  18. gobsmacked 18

    It’s a well written speech. Who wrote it?

    Before we go overboard for Shearer, can I be the grinch that points out that anybody could have stood up and read it?

    Yes, it is good that the roof painter / Grey Power nonsense has gone. Permanently, I hope. And it’s good that Labour are focusing on a core issue. It ticks both boxes – something the base can support, and something swingers can like.

    But that simply means Labour have done their job today. I’d call that “competent”, not “excellent”. It’s what they should be doing every day. It’s what they’re paid for. If they can go another 30 days (let’s be kind) without another stuff-up, then they’ll get a pass mark.

    Labour/Shearer’s performance has been so poor in recent months that we breathe a sigh of relief when the Labour leader delivers a Labour speech on Labour policy. In fact, we should expect nothing less.

  19. Red Rosa 19

    At least something seems to be happening. Like most NZ’ers, I thought Labour had disappeared or gone bush.

    NZ education is mostly OK, and compares well with overseas, but definitely shows up the societal problems. To have 250k NZ children growing up in poverty is scandalous, and impacts on the schools themselves big time. A few simple suggestions –

    Wipe the existing funding to private schools – that’s $40m+ per year to start with.

    Drop the half hour Religious Instruction (Indoctrination?) per week in favour of some real education. Civics a good alternative.

    Shake up the Ministry of Ed itself. Sack the current Pom who is trying to privatise schools by stealth. Get some real initiative and focus into the outfit, starting at the top.

    Testing at primary level (Nat Standards etc) panders to the anti-teacher crew, but is mostly a waste of time – just digging up the plant to see how the roots are doing.

    Anyway, some signs of life!

    • Vicky32 19.1

      Drop the half hour Religious Instruction (Indoctrination?) per week in favour of some real education. Civics a good alternative.

      You do know that RI takes place outside school time, don’t you? THerefore you’re talking about extending the school day, and neither teachers nor parents would thank you for it.

  20. fatty 20

    So Shearer announces that charities will be encouraged to feed our children? That’s what we’ve been doing for the past 30 years
    I’m guessing next week Shearer will propose that homeless shelters should be used to give shelter to the homeless…can someone wake me up when Labour have something worthwhile to say?

    • Carol 20.1

      Yes, I’m not keen on using charities and private sources for funding services that are necessary to ensure children are able to benefit from the education… and to eventually contribute to society.

      Like most above, my reactions to Shearer’s speech are mixed…. better than bennie bashing, some positives, but not innovative enough…. still carrying some of the neoliberal assumptions we need to move away from.

      • Olwyn 20.1.1

        +1. For me it raises as many questions as it answers. Reading recovery is a good thing, but I would like to know whether it would be incorporated into the education system, or contracted in from a private provider. I would also like to know what, “partnering with communities and voluntary organizations” to feed the children amounts to practically.

        Furthermore, there’s this: ” I don’t believe we value teachers enough. We’re lucky that most of our teachers are dedicated, talented and professional.We need the highest quality teachers.” Who the hell would think we need mediocre teachers? This, along with the qualifying “most teachers” looks to me like a dog whistle modified by an editor’s pen. And the teachers’ union is notable for its absence.

        This speech looks to me more like a change of style than of substance.

  21. Carol 21

    I like this from Louisa Wall:


    Children could be packing their bags to start primary school a year earlier if a proposal to lower the entrance age goes ahead.

    The move would see 4-year-olds included on school rolls and would take early childhood education away from private operators and into public hands. The compulsory school age is six, although most schools take children at five.

    I worked at schools in London that had “nurseries” (ie pre-school, under fives classes) as part of the school. They were funded by the local education authority, with a qualified teacher in charge.

    They education was focused on social skills, pre-education experiences via play etc. It meant children were eased into the institutional educational environment – especially necessary for children from backgrounds lacking in formal educational capital. I think they started attending for part of the day.

  22. Carol 22

    Finland has provided free school meals for all children for 70 years:



    In both Sweden and Finland, free school meals are offered to all pupils. This practice has been in place since 1948 in Finland, and was introduced to Sweden in 1973.

    As far as I can work out, these meals are state funded. Also apparently Finland has virtually no private schools.


  23. gobsmacked 23

    Reports on both main 6 pm TV news bulletins were a “win” for Labour.

    Images good, commentary favourable, only one soundbite failure (dopey/ropey). One is too many, but better than Shearer’s usual.

    I have no confidence at all that he can cope with the campaign challenges (remember, this speech was weeks in preparation, a “set piece” – in a campaign everything is 100 times faster and busier, you have to think on your feet). But that’s a separate issue from the policy announcement, and I suppose we can only cross our fingers and hope the caucus can eventually see that even the best message still needs a good messenger.

    (A propos … why do you think Key was responding on TV instead of Parata? For the very reason I’ve just given … nobody wants a self-imposed handicap, except Labour, alas).

    • Colonial Viper 23.1

      To keep Parata clean for the campaign. You’re going to see Key start to front up on more controversial issues now because he will be increasingly disposable.

  24. mike e 24

    All he has to do now is say we are following the successful finnish model and not the failed US model.

  25. georgecom 25

    Extending reading recovery will do more to lift achievement levels than the rubbish National Party Nationsl Standards policy.

    • Craig Glen Eden 25.1

      Your right George and if it was just reading difficulties that teachers had to deal with that would be fantastic but it isnt. The problem with today is it was a c pass with regards to policy. Shearer himself was not strong he had two tele prompters to deliver that speech and how many weeks of planning. Voters didnt think Goff was good and lacked the x factor , well I have seen Phil Goff give better bad speeches than the one I witnessed today. Sadly the standard of our orators in the Labour Party has fallen so low its cringe worthy. We use to have people like Clark, Cullen, Maharey that would leave you inspired, now we have people repeating Nationals 1 in 5 bullshit line in Labour policy speeches. Seriously this is bloody amateur stuff. The sadest thing is while Labour performs so poorly the Nats can push a head with no fear even if they stuff up the voters will say oh well that wasnt the best but whats the alternative. In case Labour strategist havent worked it out you have to inspire people to vote, other wise they just dont. Lastly if Labour keeps repeating the 1-5 line do you really think teachers will vote for Labour after all this is the stick that National have beaten teachers with for four bloody years. Shearer Robinson you say you want to hear party members views well theirs mine. You guys need to do a shit load better or get another job.

      • vicks 25.1.1

        Forgive me if I have lost the thread but what teleprompters? If you are talking about his speech in New Lynn he had neither teleprompters or notes.

        • Vicky32

          Forgive me if I have lost the thread but what teleprompters?

          Exactly! The anti-Shearer people will go to such incredible lengths to denigrate him, that it makes my head spin!

  26. OneTrack 26

    But, but, we already have the best education system in the world. So, surely, that means there is no need for anything called reading recovery. Because nobody would suggest you need recovery from the best education system in the world. No, of course not. Shearer must have been misreported. I blame John Key.

    • felix 26.1

      Reading recovery programs are one of the things that make it a great education system.

      But no-one said it was perfect so you’re only arguing with yourself anyway.

      • georgecom 26.1.1

        Indeed. Our system is good because of the likes of reading recovery. A tried and refined local programme that is shown to make an impact on student achievement. Extending it makes absolute common sense. Use something that we know works and apply it to more children.

        Contrast that with National Standards. An experiement as best, hastily put together with a shambolic rollout.

        • Dr Terry

          Just one little question here george, IS Shearer actually “contrasting” anything with “National Standards”?

          • georgecom

            If the issue is lifting achievement levels then yes, reading recovery is one way to address it, National Standards purportedly another.

            I have provided my views already on the merits of sinking several tens of millions of dollars into a well tested approach versus sinking several tens of millions of dollars into a rushed muddled policy.

      • Tracey 26.1.2


  27. Fortran 27

    Hooray – About time too -great new idea

    It could be called “Tomorrow’s Schools”.

  28. Bob 28

    Did David Shearer get Anne Tolley to write his speech as well? Or does he just agree with everything National is doing?

    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/good-progress-career-pathways-students http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/funding-confirmed-tertiary-high-school that covers off the Transitions section of his speech, he also must love Hekia Parata’s press release http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/focus-quality-will-raise-achievement because that covers off the Teacher Quality section, when he talks about Accountability he demonises National Standards, then quantifies his statement by saying we should bring in a “beefed up to look into the health of schools and report on them in clear easily understandable language. I want to see a school report card. And, if the school is falling short in any area, I want to know what is being done to remedy that.” sort of like ummmm aarrghhh……National Standards.

    So the only real initiatives David Shearers speech gives us is the use of Reading Recovery and…..ooops http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/sharples-welcomes-cross-party-support-reading-programmes

    Maybe David Shearer should have just said, we will feed children in Decile 1-3 schools, and carry on with everything National is doing!

  29. Anna 29

    Its not too much to ask that our children be taught science and history and that teachers be treated well, currently public schools have a deeply disconcerting absense of all three.

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