Education & Training

New Zealand First recognises that social development is an integral aspect of our country’s ability to prosper. We believe in ensuring every part of society advances, as this ultimately benefits the entirety of New Zealand.

Adult and Community

An opportunity to access second chance learning for New Zealanders of any and all ages is one of the keys to our nation’s economic recovery in a post-COVID world. New Zealand First is committed to ensuring that quality lifelong learning opportunities are available in all communities, are responsive to the needs, wants and interests of those communities and include intergenerational learning.

It has never been more important, in recent history, that New Zealanders have multiple opportunities to build on the skills they have or develop new skills that not only provide greater opportunity for employment but keep communities connected.  Research shows that people engaged in learning experience greater wellbeing and remain connected to their communities.


  • Ensure that goals within the ACE (Adult and Community Education) Strategy have a sufficient budget attached.
  • Review student support systems to ensure they are fit for purpose and have adequacy for life-long learning. 
  • Ensure that the ACE sector is constantly considered in the discussions around New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19. 
  • Work with the ACE sector to develop and implement an appropriate and affordable quality assurance process for ACE programmes and activities. 
  • Investigate full funding for co-ordinators inside school clusters to once again open our schools facilities up for community use outside compulsory school hours.

Compulsory Sector

New Zealand First believes that we have a quality public education system and acknowledges the importance of principals, teachers, support staff, parents, boards of trustees and the community in the delivery of a full and rich education for our young people.

New Zealand First is committed to a quality public education sector where the principles, values and key competencies of our New Zealand curriculum documents are at the center of all teaching and learning.


  • Deliver the final and full tranche of Learning Support Coordinators (1200) across New Zealand to all schools.
  • Build on the recent pilot of access to counsellors for primary students and progress counsellor/student ratios at secondary schools.
  • Review the representation on the Teachers Council in line with requests from sector representatives and remove certain tasks that have increased costs and should be the responsibility of Government.
  • Review Section 156 Designated Character Schools in the Education Act 1989 to recognise schools such as Hohepa and the education they deliver for a certain number of our students.
  • Continue the work required to shift from the decile system to better address equity challenges and ‘outside of school’ factors that impact on student achievement.
  • Complete the creation of consistent School Entry Assessment tools and practices that teachers and school leaders use to identify those students with learning needs.
  • Continue the work with the sector to develop screening tools, funding and resourcing models to best meet the needs of children challenged by dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s and autism.
  • Continue to advocate for increases in the Ongoing Reviewable Resource Scheme (ORRS) to cover the 3 percent of the school population identified by the Ministry of Education as high needs.

Early Childhood

New Zealand First is committed to inclusive early childhood education (ECE) that is accessible to all within safe, nurturing and stimulating environments. We would urgently review the funding model for Playcentre and their dual role as early childhood education role models and as centres that can make parents better parents. New Zealand First is most concerned about the loss of access to education providers for our rural and isolated communities.


  • Review the adult to infant (under 2s) staffing ratio in ECE centres as an urgent health and safety matter.
  • Work with the sector to amend relevant criteria to ensure an increased ability of isolated rural communities to participate in early childhood education such as Playcentre and Mobile Kindergartens.
  • Support the HIPPY organisation in their provision of early childhood education opportunities for 4 and 5 year olds and their families.
  • Establish a fund for research into best practice and innovation in New Zealand early childhood education.
  • Work to bring more ECE Centres into the Learning Support Delivery Model so as to better support those children needing early learning support.
  • Build on the pilots to shift from a “refer out and wait” early intervention system for young children who need learning support to a “send in the experts and deliver” model of early intervention.
  • Pursue the opportunity to bring ECE Centres into local clusters or Kahui Ako to better support the transition of all students into the compulsory sector.
  • Work with Playcentre to recalibrate their funding model to recognise that they provide support around parental education while also teaching how children learn through play.
  • Seek to partner with Playcentre in rural communities so that Justice can use their facilities during weekends and after hours for supervised parent / child visits to address the lack of these facilities in small towns.

Learning Support

New Zealand First’s vision for all children in education is for them to receive the support they need, as early as possible, for them to be their personal best. It is a vision based on identifying each child’s strength in the first instance and then resourcing the support they need for their fully rounded success. We acknowledge that success means more than just academic success – soft skills are vital in the society of the future. We know that a flexible model of delivery is required as our children’s needs are diverse. New Zealand First has a strong vision of the future for learning support and we intend to build on the foundation New Zealand First has established over the last three years in the years ahead.


  • Fully fund and implement the second and final tranche of Learning Support Coordinators across the rest of the compulsory sector, then enhance this support into the Early Childhood Education sector
  • Complete the nationwide implementation of the Learning Support Delivery Model and the Learning Needs Register to enhance workforce planning and network support
  • Recalibrate Early Intervention Support so that specialists come to the child rather than the “refer out and wait” current model. Where there are specialist shortages we will pursue a “Specialists Without Regions” policy of sending in teams of specialists one week per month to address children’s needs
  • Complete and roll out the nationwide Universal Screening Tools for the early identification of neurodiverse students with dyslexic, dyscalculic and autism like traits
  • Pursue the concept of a workforce of “health aides” (funded from health) and “teacher aides” (funded from education) to better support both students and teachers 
  • Look  to secure sustainable funding for gifted children and build on the provision of gifted identification and education for Maori and Pacific gifted children
  • Implement and resource the redesign of Alternative Education as developed by the sector in 2019
  • Implement and resource the redesign of the Attendance Service as per the trial in 2020
  • Continue to build on true choice for parents of “differently abled” students through a mix of ORS funding enhancements, learning support units inside local schools and specialist schools
  • Continue the roll out of the Managed Moves model of intervention for younger students with behavioural needs with a goal to have one in every school cluster over time

Tertiary and Vocational

New Zealand First will implement upfront investment in post-secondary education. This policy will remove the financial burden of student loans, particularly on our young people and replace this with a payable skill debt to the country. The Up Front Investment Tertiary policy will reduce both the human and financial waste currently created by inadequate workforce planning and under resourced careers advice. 

Our post-secondary study suite of policies, which includes a universal student allowance, will remove current lurching from skill shortage crisis to individual profession oversupply. In a post-COVID New Zealand now more than ever we must ensure that workforce planning is done and directly linked to our education system.  Now is our opportunity to train our own for the skilled workforces needed before we look offshore.


  • Implement the Up Front Investment Tertiary Policy as quickly as possible so as to remove student debt from the next generation and to ensure that workforce planning is used to remove our dependence on the importation of skilled labour as a norm.
  • Move to introduce a universal living allowance which is not subject to parents means testing as a priority for all full-time students.
  • Immediately introduce a dollar-for-dollar debt write-off scheme so that graduates in identified areas of workforce demand may trade a year’s worth of debt for each year of paid full-time work in New Zealand in that area.
  • Work with the sector to reset the international student market so that when it is safe to restart this sector it is done safely and is rebuilt to provide quality education and experiences to these students but also provide high quality income for our nation.  International Education must not be used as a back door to immigration. 
  • Continue to support the resourcing of apprenticeships and on-job learning to develop a skilled workforce and address unemployment across all ages.
  • Work alongside the sector, including NZUSA, to establish a project to build capacity for enhancing student engagement so students have a say in how, what and why they learn. This would be based on the implementation of the Student Voice for Quality Enhancement report and by funding a long-term programme to build capacity for the student voice in the sector ($2m over 5 years).
  • While respecting institutional autonomy and diversity, require through the external review processes that institutions can demonstrate that they have independent, autonomous and well-resourced systems of student advocacy services for genuinely engaging, through student representatives, with students.
  • Work with NZUSA and the sector to establish an expert reference group with a view to implement two thousand ‘First in Family’ scholarships per year. These will create a step-change in educational aspiration by promoting fee-free education with wrap-around support from secondary, through transition and to completion for those who would be the first in their immediate family to achieve a degree. ($68m over first 3 years 2015 to 2017).
  • Review funding and attendance models that create barriers to achieving recognized NZQA qualifications through flexible individual training agreements and workplace internships. (see our Business Linked Internship Policy under Small Business)
  • Minimise the “opportunity costs” (administration and compliance) and financial barriers for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to employ apprentices and provide flexibility for provincial and rural New Zealand students.
  • Encourage strategic alliances between industry crown research institutes and tertiary institutions to increase the number of scholarships and government funded research grants available to graduates, universities and employers.
  • Re-establish Teachers Training Colleges to address the deficiencies in many Initial Teacher Training courses.