National will train fewer teachers, repeal school zoning rules and review the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) if elected to government, the party said today.
Announcing his party's education policy -- called Reaching for the Stars -- National leader Bill English described it as a "bold plan" to raise education standards and put parents and principals back in control of schools.
National would raise teaching standards by training fewer but better quality teachers and would introduce minimum academic standards of entry into training institutes which would get regular Education Review Office audits, he said.
Stage two of NCEA would be put on hold and an urgent review of the system to look at workload and implementation problems would be carried out.
Controversial school zoning rules introduced by Labour would be repealed but National would maintain the right of access to a "reasonably convenient" public school.
Schools would also be able to require pre-enrolment of students by November the previous year to enable better planning for the following year.
All schools would have the option of being self-managed, ministry-managed or approved agency-managed from January 2004, and would be able to opt out of national contracts and payroll system and develop their own agreements with staff.
National would also:
* review school decile funding to ensure levels matched education needs while guaranteeing no schools would lose funding;
* increase over time the funding for independent schools to 50 per cent of the state school equivalent entitlement and restore funding levels for rural schools;
* implement a nationwide assessment system in literacy and numeracy to ensure all children could read, write and do maths by age nine;
* expand the social workers in schools programme to enable teachers to focus on teaching.
"We will deliver a modern education system. It will give schools, principals and parents the flexibility and control they need and it will motivate and inspire teachers and students," Mr English said.
Education Minister Trevor Mallard said National's policy showed more of the "same old mistakes" which would widen the gap in educational achievement.
"The divisive bulk funding system, a privatisation of the school system, and the removal of the guaranteed right to go to your local school are all policy of the previous National government that voters rejected in 1999," Mr Mallard said in a statement.
Bulk funding was more likely to antagonise the teacher dispute than solve it, he said.
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