Maths, science focus of $10.5m in extra school funding

Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / David White
Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / David White

The Government is providing $10.5 million in extra school funding to improve student achievement in maths and science.

An extra $7 million over the next four years would be put into two existing programmes - Accelerated Learning in Mathematics and BES Exemplar 1 and another $3 million over the next two years would go to boost learning and teacher support across the science curriculum, Education Minister Hekia Parata said.

More than $500,000 would also go into the development of more than 60 science learning resources.

Findings from the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement reports on science and writing, released this week, showed that most Year 4 and Year 8 students' scientific knowledge was gained from listening to teachers rather than investigating their own questions or applying science to issues of concern to them. Teachers working with Year 4 and Year 8 students said they enjoyed teaching science but some were not confident in their ability.

"We want all teachers to feel confident and enthusiastic about teaching these subjects, and these resources will help them to do that. In turn that will ensure that all our children and young people get a better education and a stronger grounding in mathematics and science," Ms Parata said.

Ms Parata and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce also announced today a joint education-science sector plan to lift engagement and achievement in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The Science and Society project was developed by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Education in response to the National Science Challenges Panel's additional leadership challenge to improve the understanding, skills and adoption of science and technology in New Zealand society. The objectives of the project are to increase science, technology, engineering and maths skills of young people and improve science literacy across the population.

"New Zealand needs more people with maths and science skills in our workforce to help us be internationally competitive and to meet future labour-market needs, particularly in areas where there are shortages such as engineering, ICT, health and agricultural sciences," Mr Joyce said.

"This project will co-ordinate efforts across Government to lift New Zealand's science and mathematical literacy."

The project would target a range of areas, including helping to address National Standards figures which show a third of young people were achieving below the standards for maths in Years 7 and 8, Ms Parata said.

The Prime Minister's Chief Science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, will chair a group of experts to advise officials and ministers on the draft project plan.

The draft plan will be publicly consulted on and the final project plan is expected to be published and adopted by June next year.


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