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Labour promises free food for schools

Published: 11:07AM Sunday September 09, 2012 Source: ONE News

  • Labour Leader David Shearer (Source: ONE News)
    Labour Leader David Shearer - Source: ONE News

The Labour Party has announced a new education policy today including the roll out of a Reading Recovery programme, free food policy and easier to understand report cards.

Labour leader David Shearer announced his vision for education to supporters at St Leonards Road School in West Auckland this afternoon.

"The world's best education will be available at your local school, that's what Labour is committed to.

"Each child should be able to reach their full potential, no matter who they are or where they are from," Shearer said.

He said that only two out of three schools offer the New Zealand-developed scheme, which had an 80% success rate of lifting children who fall behind in reading.

Only 59% of low decile schools have Reading Recovery, he said.
"Reading Recovery is the gold-standard intervention to help kids that are struggling to learn to read. It is a proven success, and should be available to every child who needs it," Shearer said.

"The National Government has poured all its effort - and $36 million of taxpayers' money - into National Standards and league tables designed to measure how our kids are doing.  But they have no plan to actually help improve children's learning. Labour does," Shearer said.

Labour said its proposal would lift the total cost of Reading Recovery from about $40 million to an estimated $60 million and the extra $20 million would likely be met through direct government funding.

The announcement also included a promise to provide children in low decile schools with a free meal every day.

Shearer said the party would partner up with communities and voluntary organisations to provide the free food, citing previous successful programmes such as fruit and milk in schools.

''I hear people argue that this is the responsibility of parents," he said.

"We can debate that endlessly but it won't change this reality: tomorrow morning kids will still turn up to school hungry. And a hungry kid is a distracted kid who can disrupt an entire classroom."

He also promised to introduce easier to understand report cards and programmes to ease the transition from school to the workforce.

The New Zealand Educational Institute welcomed Shearer's pledge to spend more on public education.

"Labour's commitment to put children at the centre of learning and to reject the failed policies of bigger class sizes, unregistered teachers, National Standards, league tables and charter schools will certainly resonate with many teachers," NZEI said in a statement.