Labour toolkit lauded by schools

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
The Labour Party's school leavers' toolkit, which aims to equip young people for adult life, has been welcomed by Otago secondary schools.

Further north, though, it has been labelled a ``kneejerk reaction''.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced her party planned to give school leavers practical skills and knowledge, including help learning to drive, understanding practical budgeting, equipping them with workplace skills, and teaching them how New Zealand's political systems operated by way of civics education.

Ms Ardern said funding for the programmes would come from the $4billion in additional funding Labour had committed to the education sector and every secondary school would be resourced to provide the courses.

``Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children core knowledge and learning skills. Our education system is one of the best in the world.

``However, the Future of Work Commission identified the need to do better in giving young people the practical skills that they need, in the workplace, in their day-to-day lives, and as members of the community.

``Businesses say they need young workers with these skills.

``Having a driving licence so you can get to work, knowing how to fit into a workplace, knowing how to manage your money and knowing how to take your place in the community - these are all important skills in adult life, and we need to do more to ensure our young people are equipped with them.''

Otago Secondary Principals' Association secretary Gordon Wilson was impressed with the policy.

``This clearly has merit. Schools, along with the community, are keen that young people be well prepared for life after school, and this is a way of achieving that.''

Mr Wilson said when he started teaching in 1977, he taught a financial literacy class.

``Things like that have been in and out of the curriculum. Nobody would deny the merit of all the things that are sitting there.

``It's clear that these things do have a place and are important.''

His only concern was the school curriculum could become crowded.

``There are only a certain number of hours in the school day.''

New Zealand Principals' Federation president and Bathgate Park School principal Whetu Cormick welcomed the toolkit but

had concerns.

He hoped it would be properly resourced because school budgets were already ``overstretched'', and any added costs would have to be passed on to parents.

``This idea of providing young people with toolkits is one that we would welcome.

``We know that some of our young people are not prepared for the workforce and we're really encouraged by Labour's idea.''

However, Secondary School Principals Association president Mike Williams, the principal of Pakuranga College, said many secondary schools already provided driver education, which had been available for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) since 2015.

Speaking of the items in the toolkit, Mr Williams said: ``If those are the biggest issues there are in education, I'd be very surprised.''

``The reality is that in an awful lot of schools driver education is happening already.

``Financial literacy is happening in an awful lot of schools already, and civics programmes are happening in an awful lot of schools already.

``It's a real kneejerk reaction.

``They must have listened to some talkback radio and thought `we must fix that'. It's that low-level thinking that is not helpful.'' - Additional reporting NZME


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