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Free food & report cards – Labour's education reforms

Sunday 9 Sep 2012 5:24 p.m.

By Samantha Hayes

The Labour Party has come to life with an attack on the Government's education record.

Opposition leader David Shearer says he plans to transform the country through education and end the inequality faced by impoverished children.

Mr Shearer has gone on the offensive, calling the Government's education record abysmal and appalling.    

“What single thing has this Government come up with in terms of helping kids get better learning?” asks the Labour Party leader. “They've come up with larger class sizes, charter schools, unregistered teachers. It's all going backwards.”

The former teacher today announced he wants to transform education by extending the Food in Schools programme to all decile-one to three schools, at a cost of $19 million. Mr Shearer wants to roll out Reading Recovery to all schools, at an extra $20 million, and introduce report cards for schools instead of league tables.

“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,” says Mr Shearer. “Or ropey? He uses dopey and ropey interchangeably.”

In Vladivostok for APEC, the Prime Minister claimed most schools already had mechanisms in place for impoverished children.  

“Not every school wants every child to be provided a lunch,” says Mr Key. “There are many families that can provide those lunches.”

But 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.”

Mr Shearer made the lofty promise of providing the world's best education at every school, with more announcements to come. This is the new political battleground – Labour knows it's on to a vote-winner if it can find the money to pay for its promises.

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