By 3 News online staff / RadioLIVE
Labour Leader David Shearer wants to stop pupils slipping through the net as he reveals his ideas to improve education.
In a speech to parents in Auckland yesterday afternoon, Mr Shearer said he was committed to providing the world's best education in local schools.
Initiatives include providing children with food in school, and rolling out reading recovery to all schools.
"That means that kids that slip behind in their reading get the assistance they need to be able catch up, so they don't end up going through school and eventually dropping out."
The free lunches would be provided in students at decile one, two and three schools, and would cost $19 million. The Reading Recovery plan would cost $20 million.
Mr Shearer also wants to provide parents with school report cards, instead of league tables, and develop new ideas to bridge the gap between the classroom and workforce.
"I don't need to know whether my school is better than the one across town, based on a bunch of shonky figures that even [Prime Minister] John Key says are dopey," said Mr Shearer.
But Mr Key says the Government has already advocated a similar scheme, which Labour didn’t support.
"He wasn't there supporting me when I was talking about exactly those issues and the teacher unions were attacking us," says Mr Key.
"So let's see how brave he is when he wanders off to the NZEI and the PPTA."
Mr Key says national standards and a quasi-league table scheme will resolve all the issues Mr Shearer is raising, and that making a commitment to provide free lunch to every student at a decile one-to-three school is going too far.
The Government's own statistics show more than 80,000 children often go without breakfast.
"New Zealand is now more unequal than it ever has been," says David Shearer. "That's a disgrace and eradicating the causes of poverty will be a priority of the next Labour Government."
RadioLIVE / 3 News