Election 2023: National promises to 'teach the basics brilliantly', but how has the sector graded its latest policy?

We'll teach the basics brilliantly - that's National's promise to parents as it kicks off the education election battle. 

It wants an hour of maths, an hour of reading and an hour of writing each day to be mandatory for primary and intermediate children. 

It'll rewrite the curriculum - dictating what must be taught each year - but will create a resource bank so teachers can share lesson plans.

But the bit some teachers won’t like: it wants a return to standardised tests twice a year - just don’t call them National Standards.

It makes up for the extra marking, it will scrap teachers' registration fees at a cost of $10 million dollars.

Christopher Luxon wants to take a red pen to the curriculum and rewrite it.

"We are focussed on making sure we teach the basics brilliantly," he said. 

He wants to do that by telling teachers what to teach for every year group and make sure reading, writing and maths are each taught for an hour each every day.

"It's not about turning the whole thing upside down, it's about making sure we build on what's there."

But Mark Potter, President of NZEI (New Zealand Educational Institute) Te Riu Roa, said it's another big change.

"We have had dropping learning results and one of the things that has been causing that is the constant rejig of education," he said. 

National wants to take schooling old school by testing kids twice a year. But the nationally standardised tests are not a synonym for the old national standards, Luxon said. 

"What were doing here is we're making sure that we are focused on that each and every single individualised child, we understand their progress against a really well-defined curriculum."

He said it's about "making sure that there is good regular robust standardised progression assessment".

But Potter said: "What we're seeing does look a lot like National Standards just in a different jacket."

National's plan would be funny if it wasn't so damaging, said the Education Minister.

"I was in the sector when National Standards were in place. The damage it did was just immeasurable," said Jan Tinetti. 

National's education spokesperson Erica Stanford said it will be different. 

"One of the things we saw in National Standards was this tendency to teach to the test but under the tool that we want to use that won’t be possible."

National believes something must be done about falling education levels. 

"At the moment its a very, very loose curriculum… It's basically finger in the wind deciding what they teach next week or tomorrow," Stanford said. 

"I am a little bit disappointed that there's a continual political football that's being played around our education system, particularly around curriculum," said Tinetti. 

Education is clearly entering the election arena.