26 Jan 2014

Green Party school policy targets poverty

9:59 pm on 26 January 2014

The Green Party has announced it would set up community hubs in schools in poor areas to help overcome the impact of poverty on children's learning.

The hubs would cluster health, welfare and other support services in decile 1 to decile 4 schools, and the policy also includes providing free lunches.

Metiria Turei.

Metiria Turei. Photo: GREEN PARTY

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei used her state-of-the-nation speech in Wellington on Sunday to highlight the impact of poverty on children's learning.

Ms Turei said the latest OECD report on educational outcomes across a number of countries highlighted the link between inequality and the worsening educational achievement of children in New Zealand.

She said there is growing evidence poverty gets in the way of children learning.

Ms Turei said the Greens would also provide free afterschool and holiday care and put nurses in low decile schools.

The Greens estimate the policy would cost $100 million a year.

Its policy contrasts with the one Prime Minister John Key announced on Thursday when he said the Government would pay top principals and teachers more to lift standards. The Greens criticised that policy for not addressing poverty.

Labour responds positively to policy but Govt critical

Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says there's much in the Greens' policy he agrees with and it would be a matter of negotiating the details of the plan.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the Government is already doing much of what the Greens propose.

She says they are also clearly in denial that the biggest impact on children's learning is quality teaching, not whether they come from poor backgrounds.

Ms Parata says the Greens should support Government initiatives to pay top principals and teachers more in order to help lift standards in all schools.