Wairarapa Labour candidate Keiran McAnulty says his years at a Masterton college with a modest roll proves the efficacy of smaller classes, as touted in his party's overhauled education policy.
Labour leader David Cunliffe announced details of its revamped 2011 policy at the party congress in Wellington at the weekend.
The policy included provision for 2000 extra teachers and professional development over the next four years to help cut class sizes, and the introduction of a $120 million portable computer subsidy to get more digital technology into schools.
"The idea is to ensure everybody has access to the same level of education technology, regardless of where they live or the depth of their parents' pockets."
Internet access at home would be ensured as well for low decile students under the policy, which also will scrap National Standards and National's Investing in Education Success (IES) plan to pay higher salaries to executive teachers and principals.
"I'm pleased to campaign on the basis that we're committed to reducing class sizes, increasing professional development for teachers, and ensuring a more level playing field for students across the board."
Mr McAnulty said he had attended St Mary's School in Carterton and Chanel College, where in 2002 he was head boy.
He was fortunate to have been at the Masterton college, he said, at a time when the school had relatively small class sizes.
"The beauty of Chanel College was that it only had 300-odd students when I was there. It didn't have a massive roll and while that presents its own challenges, we certainly benefited from the fact that if we needed one-on-one time with the teachers, we got it.
"I cannot remember any instance going to Chanel where either myself or my mates didn't get attention when we needed it. But not every child has that benefit.
"The Prime Minister has acknowledged the importance of smaller class sizes and one-on-one attention and Makoura College has been acknowledged for the good work they've been doing through principal Tom Hullena, and small class sizes was a big factor in that.
"The irony is that now they've won national attention, they might be in more demand and lose one of the factors that helped put them in the spotlight. We want to make sure they keep that advantage."
Mr McAnulty said the Labour Party had a "pretty good record" of working constructively with teacher's unions "to make sure they get paid what they're worth" although he was unaware of any party policy on teacher pay rises and he slammed the beleaguered Novopay system. "It's an absolute disgrace and it's still going on - it's just not getting reported. It's a travesty."
Mr Cunliffe said Labour education policies will cost $873 million and will be mostly covered by existing spending.
Reduce class sizes in Years 4 to 8 from 29 to 26 by 2018, and from 26 to 23 in secondary schools, while employing 2000 more teachers over the next four years, investing in new classrooms and equipment, and professional development and staffing at a cost of $503 million.
Subsidised netbooks and laptops for all students at a cost of $120 million.
Ensure students in low-decile areas can access internet at home at a cost of $30 to $50 million.
Pay $100 each pupil to schools that forego parent donations at a cost of $50 million over the next four years.
Scrap National Standards and replace with new system.
Establish school advisory service to oversee professional development and deploy good teachers to work as trainers in other schools for up to three years.
Establish a College of Leadership for professional development of principals and deploy up to 100 good principals elsewhere for up to two years.
Boost pre-screening for teacher training and more bonded scholarships.