Rotorua educators want to see meaningful changes targeting key issues like special needs and mental health this election, not "shallow one-liners" from political parties.

Education has been a major focus this election, with promises including free tertiary education, universal student allowances, revamping National Standards, teaching teenagers how to drive and budget, and making te reo Maori accessible in all schools.

While some have been well received by the sector, others have gone down like a lead balloon.

Rotorua Principals' Association said it was dismayed by National's education announcements made last Sunday.


The $379 million package included $45m towards revamping National Standards, the current means used to track primary-aged children's development.

"Parents accessing an app to see where their children at in their learning more frequently than the current twice per year model is not in any way going to improve learning outcomes for any children.

"The proposed National Standards Plus for so many families whose living conditions are stretched to breaking point (and broken already), is such a wasted investment on their child's chance to make a good start in their learning life, it is a disgrace," the association said.

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Other key points in the package included providing primary school pupils the opportunity to learn a second language, improving maths achievements by upskilling teachers and investing in resources and creating digital internships for Year 12 and 13 students.

"Plans for children to be learning a second language, when a child's grasp of their main language is poor, will send more hard earned taxpayers' dollars down the same wasteful drain as has been done with our educations dollar in the past," the association said.

"As educators and voters, we need to be very mindful of our Ministry of Education officers and consultants developing ill-advised ideas and then considering themselves to be innovative.

"Rotorua schools can let the National Party know the things that do make a difference for learners. We are sick of the waste."


The association said simple solutions to support special needs learners were needed, which could start with having a teacher aide in every classroom.

Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart
Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart

Association president and Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart said the mental health of children was at the forefront of every school, but she felt no help in this area had yet been offered by any party.

"Children who are not socially and emotionally well are unable to take part in learning to their full potential.

"Every school trying to access expert help [is] frustrated by processes.

"Simple solutions include having all experts based in the schools. They would be right at the place where they are needed, part of the daily conversations and solution finding and connected to the child, whanau and teacher.

"At the heart of all that we do in schools is the child's wellbeing and learning. Let us help develop real education plans that make a real difference for children.

"There are funds available - the parties are talking in the hundreds of millions. Make those funds work for our kids."

Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust general manager Roana Bennett.
Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust general manager Roana Bennett.

Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake Trust general manager Roana Bennett said so far she had been disappointed by the shallowness of some promises.

"I like the conversations being had about holistic support and increasing services available to schools but a lot of this election has been the parties becoming entrenched in their political corners.

"We need more substance for the sector than just shallow one-liners being thrown out there."

Ms Bennett wanted to see increased access to quality early childhood education, psychologists in every school and free tertiary education.

Post Primary Teachers' Association Bay of Plenty spokeswoman Alex Le Long said it was exam-marking season so "teachers are heads down bums up with incredible workloads".

"There are issues around teacher supply and teacher shortage and when there is so much teachers need to do outside the realm of being in the classroom, little time is left to actually teach.

"Some parties believe there is no issue but there really is. I think policy makers need to be talking to those at the coalface to get a better idea of what is going on."

Te Kohanga Reo ki Rotokawa senior supervisor Tiria Shaw said the kohanga had always been passionate and committed to improved whanau engagement and participation in education.

"With the upcoming elections, we hope kohanga reo will move forward positively by the Government advancing and settling the Waitangi Tribunal Claim 2011, report "Matua Rautia" published 2012.

"We also hope kohanga reo will gain equal recognition for early childhood education. Kohanga reo was established based on our cultural values and beliefs that teach and reinforce our uniqueness and identity as Maori.

"Our achievement at the Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards this year shows kohanga reo has the ability and potential to provide the highest level of education and care. We'd like for the quality education received at kohanga reo to be recognised so that funding reflects the same as our early childhood education counterparts."

Student Pulse president Virgil Iraia.
Student Pulse president Virgil Iraia.

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Student Pulse president Virgil Iraia said promises around universal student allowances were "a positive step forward".

"I think it's a good move but we will have to wait and see what comes of it as the devil is in the details.

"For students, the most pressing issue is housing. We have students living couch to couch because of the housing crisis, and coupled with the small student allowance rate, some students have just $20 left over for food.

"The good thing is young people seem to be more engaged this election. We don't tell them who to vote for, we just stress the importance of enrolling and voting."