Prime Minister John Key today announced the National-led Government will invest an extra $359 million over the next four years to lift the achievement of New Zealand students at school.
In his first speech of the year, Mr Key says the country is moving in the right direction, with the economy projected to grow faster than most other developed countries and incomes set to rise.
“The Government’s books are on track to return to surplus and we are continuing to deliver what we have promised,” Mr Key says.
“A big focus for me as Prime Minister has been on education, because I believe every New Zealand child deserves the best education possible.
“We have introduced National Standards so parents, teachers and principals know how students are doing at school. We’re also building new schools and we are investing more money than ever before in education.
“The next step in our plan to raise achievement is to recognise excellent teachers and principals, keep good teachers in the classroom, and share expertise across schools for the benefit of our children.
“To do that, we’re introducing four new roles in our schools – Executive Principal, Expert Teacher, Lead Teacher and Change Principal,” Mr Key says.
The proposed changes announced today draw together the best of New Zealand and the best of overseas experience.
“It’s a mixture of what the profession has been telling us it needs, what the best performing countries are doing, and what international evidence and research shows works,” Mr Key says.
“Our current system often leads teachers to move out of the classroom to advance their careers, and our children can lose the opportunity to learn from the best.
“What we are doing is designed to give teachers the opportunity to further their careers while staying in front of our kids in the classroom.
“International evidence and New Zealand-based research clearly shows that in schools, the quality of teaching is the most important factor in a child’s education. The next biggest influence is school leadership.
“That’s why our changes are also designed to strengthen leadership in our schools, by recognising the best principals with a proven track record, and giving them the opportunity to support and mentor others. This is intended to raise the level of leadership across the board,” Mr Key says.
There is still some detail to be worked through with the sector about how the new approach will work, but the first roles are expected to be appointed in 2015.
The Government will work with the sector unions and other key groups over the next few months to further develop and finalise details of the new approach.
The cost of the initiative builds up over the next four years. It is expected to have a relatively small cost in the first year, rising to an annual cost of more than $150 million a year once fully implemented.
“I’m optimistic about the year ahead and I intend to work hard every day to continue to earn the trust and support of New Zealanders,” Mr Key says.