Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the policy
today. File photo / Brett Phibbs
The Green Party has launched its election year by
announcing a $90 million a year package for low decile schools,
including free after school care and holiday programmes, free
lunches, and school nurses in every decile 1-4 primary and
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the package,
dubbed Schools at the Heart, at the Green's annual 'State of
the Planet' picnic in Wellington today.
She said the measures were aimed at tackling inequality and
would be delivered through "community hubs" set up in every
decile 1-4 primary and intermediate schools. The party also
wanted to build at least 20 new early childhood centres in
low decile primary schools, which it expected to cost $25
"The evidence shows that if kids are fed, are healthy and
have the support services they need then they do better at
school. This announcement represents a significant commitment
to eradicating inequality in New Zealand and it's effects."
The hubs would be led by a school hub coordinator whose role
would be to recruit adult and community educators, as well as
early childhood, social and health services, and look at
other ways to develop services which were needed in any
particular school community.
Ms Turei said ensuring children were fed and healthy was
critical for learning.
"Kids in lower decile schools will be fed through a national
school lunch fund, sick kids will get medical attention from
dedicated school nurses, and families will get the support
they need to work, further their own education and be engaged
in their kids' learning."
The hub coordinators would take the workload of establishing
the hubs off teachers and leave them free to teach.
Ms Turei was critical of the National Party's education
announcement last week. That policy rewarded good teachers
and principals and set up a system for them to share their
skills and knowledge across other schools. Ms Turei said it
did nothing to address the primary cause of under-achievement
which was poverty.
Education was the most important factor in a child's ability
to escape poverty, she said.
"But's that's a challenge because a poor kid here is less
likely to do well at school than a poor kid in almost any
other developed country."
The Greens policy would secure savings in health, education,
stable school rolls as well as stronger communities, she
Ms Turei also said reducing inequality would be the Greens'
primary focus in the election year. She said the party's time
had come to be part of a Government, and although it
recognised it would have to compromise for that to happen, it
would not compromise on its values such as reducing
In May last year, Prime Minister John Key announced a further
$9.5 million over five years for the current KickStart
programme run by Fonterra and Sanitarium. That was to allow
the breakfast in low decile schools programme to be extended
to five days a week and to more schools.
The policy included:
* employing a hub coordinator in each of the targeted
schools, at a cost of $28.5 million;
* free after school and holiday care programmes for the
targeted schools at a cost of $10 million a year, as well as
extending the current after-school care subsidies to children
at decile 5-10 schools;
* a national school lunch fund, expected to cost $40 million
a year, to provide lunch at all decile 1-4 schools, and other
schools where there was a need; and
* dedicated school nurses in the targeted schools, expected
to cost $11.6 million a year.
- Claire Trevett of NZ Herald