AM host Ryan Bridge grills Christopher Luxon on National's education policy

  • 22/03/2023

Christopher Luxon says part of New Zealand's school curriculum will undergo a "rewrite" if National is elected in October.

The Opposition party on Wednesday morning revealed a new policy called "Teaching the Basics Brilliantly", with the aim to tighten up each curriculum level. More details about the policy will be announced on Thursday.

AM host Ryan Bridge asked Luxon why voters had to wait until Thursday to see more details.

"[It's] good to be talking about education - it's the issue on a lot of people's minds. However, you've given us an announcement about an announcement because you're not actually releasing any detail until Thursday," Bridge told Luxon.

Luxon said while he couldn't go into full details about the policy on Wednesday, he said it would detail non-negotiable knowledge and skills primary and intermediate schools must cover each year with regard to reading, writing, maths and science.

He said his party's policy was about future-proofing New Zealand.

"Here we sit in a developed country; we've got poor attendance rates but, importantly, we've got really poor academic achievement results," Luxon told AM.

"Our results have actually been slipping relative to past New Zealand students over the last 20 years and also relative to other countries.

"Last year we saw that, actually, only two-thirds of our 15-year-olds could pass the most basic maths, reading and writing test, and that's really alarming to me because as I look at the future of New Zealand, we have a great country, we've got endless potential but the key thing that will enable us to unlock and realise all of that will be having a world-class education system."

Luxon went on to say National's policy was about honing in on "four skills that we know are really determinants of our success for our kids".

He also took aim at Labour over its curriculum refresh, first announced in 2021, saying "we must be more ambitious for our children". 

"At the moment, the curriculum for maths, reading, writing and science is done in three-year bands, essentially… It's quite loose. When I look at other countries like the UK or Australia, they have very definitive knowledge that they want to teach on each of those four subjects, by year," Luxon said.

"For example, in Australia or England, you learn addition/subtraction in year 1 - here, in New Zealand, you can learn that anywhere from years 2 to 5… from a student's point of view, they can get lost in that three-year window.

"If New Zealand wants to turn around declining achievement and ensure every child makes consistent progress, we need a curriculum that provides clear and detailed guidance to teachers and parents on what students should be learning each school year," the National leader said.

Luxon will announce more details about "Teaching the Basics Brilliantly" on Thursday, during a visit to the Hutt Valley.