Verve Article - September 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Investing in 21st-Century Schools

It’s obvious to everyone that Auckland has an increasingly diverse population and that our economy has pivoted towards the Asia-Pacific region.  The languages that our children learn at school should reflect those changes.  

So I was pleased to see that local schools in Epsom and Remuera have been given $432,492 to enable more classes in Japanese and Mandarin as part of the Asian Language Learning in Schools fund.  These include Epson Girls’ Grammar, Remuera Intermediate and Parnell, Cornwall Park, Newmarket, Victoria Ave and Remuera primary schools.  Our schools are among 22 groups of 129 schools which have received funding from the first round of the $10 million fund over three years. 

There are strong intellectual and cultural benefits to learning a second language and Asian Language Learning in Schools is just one of several government initiatives that will encourage a multi-lingual New Zealand. 

Population growth, meantime, means that we need to continue to invest in the physical infrastructure at our schools.  Last month I had the pleasure of joining my colleague Hon Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of Education, to open four new classrooms for Mt Eden Normal School.  The new $1.4 million classroom block raises the school’s roll capacity from 692 to 799.  

The new classrooms, which are lovely and warm, will provide better, more modern learning spaces for more students. They will also provide more innovative and flexible teaching spaces to support children to achieve in the classroom.
I look forward to seeing the completion of more modern learning spaces for Remuera, Newmarket and Orakei primary schools over the next 18 months. 

Finally, it’s great that St Peter’s College is part of a group of 11 schools forming Auckland Central Catholic Community of Schools. This means students will benefit from shared teaching practices and expertise, with teachers working alongside each other on goals to help improve educational outcomes in the classroom.

Evidence shows us quality of education and school leadership are the two most important factors in a child’s education, so we are supporting those areas. We want to see greater collaboration among schools, improved transition through the education system for children, and better career pathways for early childhood and primary teachers.