Education Legislation Bill - Second reading
STUART SMITH: Well, education is something that the National Government takes very, very seriously. I think that is best demonstrated by the 2.5 percent increase in the Budget to $11 billion for education, which is a phenomenal actual bet, and is putting all our money where our mouth is and actually ensuring education goes forward.
But this Education Legislation Bill takes things another step. I think it is about enabling excellence—that is what this legislation is about. It does, as has been said, amend 8 different Acts, some of which date back over 70 years, or one of them does; the other one dates back just over 60 years.
You know, we do need to have legislation that is fit for the modern purpose. I would like to challenge the last speaker, Adrian Rurawhe. I was on the select committee and all of the submitters who came and gave evidence to the select committee were all taken seriously, and all were listened to. That does not mean to say that we agreed with them. We all have a brain—
Carmel Sepuloni: Well…hmm!
STUART SMITH: —we were all round there; we made our own choices. Yes, there are exceptions, but not on our side.
I would like to say that when we come to the principals being able to manage more than one school, what we have in the Opposition is really a triumph of ideology over good sense.
What we have here are people who are very, very capable people who, with the board of trustees’ consent and agreement, the principal’s consent and agreement, and the consent of the board of trustees of the other school, are getting together and agreeing that that principal will share their skills across two schools. I think that is about getting excellence out there.
We all know from our own experience at school that there will be a teacher that we remember who made a tremendous difference to us and to others. That teacher did that—I said this last week in the House. It is not about the knowledge that is in the head of the teacher; it is about the skills they have to get that knowledge across to their students.
That is something that is almost intangible: some people have it in spades; other people do not. Those who do, it is quite right that they share their skills out for others so that the students might benefit from that.
We also talked about initial teacher education, or Teach First NZ. In fact, we had a cross-party briefing here last week from the Teach First NZ organisation. We also had the deputy principal of Tāmaki College, and she spoke extremely highly of the progress that has been made by those Teach First NZ teachers.
All of this nonsense about the pedagogy—I do not know how many times I heard that term come out in that speech from the Green person; it must be the new word—but it is about what those students got out of those teachers.
Those teachers brought their experience from other backgrounds—in fact, one of them came from a banking background and a graduate programme, got involved in teaching, and he loves it.
His passion when he spoke about it was there for all to see, and the deputy principal could not speak highly enough of the contribution that he is making, both in the education sense, directly to the students, but he is also now the teachers’ representative on the board and is making a tremendous difference to that school.
It is with great pleasure that I commend this fantastic bill to the House.