SHORE MATTERS with Maggie Barry
Building strong Schools
North Shore schools are going from strength to strength and it’s been encouraging to see some of the new facilities our local schools have been able to provide for our children.
I have just cut the ribbon at two very fit-for-purpose learning classrooms at Belmont Primary where the roll is growing at a great rate and the staff and children are rightly very proud of what their school is achieving. In the past few months, I’ve also recently opened the impressive modern classroom block at Mairangi Bay School, which is an open plan, flexible learning environment and Devonport Primary’s long awaited and outstanding new building, along with Carmel College’s new-state-of-the-art Harkins building.
Takapuna Grammar is now well underway with its remediation and 21st Century learning package coming in at a cost of around $8 million, while Belmont Intermediate is upgrading its hall and the old administration area. Westlake Boys has just completed its $1.2 million upgrade on water-damaged buildings and a $3 million upgrade and extension of its science facilities.
These are all tangible ways our Government is supporting North Shore students because children learn better in spaces which support effective, innovative, teaching. We continue to invest in all parts of the education sector and despite tight financial times, National’s investment in our children’s education - early childhood, primary and secondary - will be $10.1 billion in 2014/15.
We’ve almost doubled spending on early childhood education, and participation is the highest it’s ever been at 95.7 percent, putting us on target to reach our goal of 98 percent in 2016. It all adds up to around 6500 more children attending early childhood education now than there were in 2008.
We’re focused on raising student achievement and have committed $857.8 million over four years to achieve this.
Work is now underway to set up the flagship $359 million ‘Investing in Educational Success’ initiative announced by the Prime Minister in January. It’s a way of strengthening collaboration between principals, teachers and schools in order to raise student achievement and introduces new roles within schools so expertise can be shared across schools and so that good teachers stay in the classroom.
On top of this, our investment in the tertiary sector will increase by $198.6 million to strengthen the quality of our higher education system, improve further the quality of our universities, and help maintain their international competitiveness.
We want all students to achieve to the best of their abilities and we’re focused on identifying and supporting students who have been falling behind while, at the same time, encouraging those who are doing well to do even better.
As a member of the Education and Science Select committee, I’ll be representing the Government on a Gifted Education Political Panel this month and will outline how we’re supporting gifted students to realise their potential. Schools are required to identify these talented students and we’ve invested in a range of programmes and initiatives that will help schools to implement quality, sustainable “gifted and talented” GATE programmes by providing professional support for teachers, developing resources and implementing supplementary programmes. There is a useful online resource at www.gifted.tki.org.nz which includes information for schools and teachers, parents and whanau, as well as for these high achieving students themselves.
Ensuring every child gets a good education is one of the most important things we can do to equip them to find jobs, raise living standards and build a more competitive and productive economy.
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