First steps of 100-day plan for education: removing distractions and teaching the basics brilliantly

  • Hon Erica Stanford

Today the Government has introduced changes to ensure all children get a world-leading education, with all primary and intermediate students to be taught an average of one hour a day of each of reading, writing and maths and the distraction of cellphones to be removed from classrooms.

Education Minister Erica Stanford says these changes in the 100-day plan are the first steps in the coalition Government’s plan to lift student achievement.

“We have an aspirational target to get 80 per cent of our kids to curriculum by the time they finish intermediate, to set them up for success so they can live the life they want.

“Starting from Term 1 2024, all students in Years 0 – 8 will be taught reading, writing and maths for an average of one hour a day in each subject.

“We’re seeing that many schools are already doing this well, but this change is about having time dedicated to teaching reading, writing and maths in a purposeful and deliberate way consistently across New Zealand.

“The Ministry of Education will provide guidance and support to assist schools with the implementation of these changes.”

Erica Stanford says reducing the distraction of cellphones will help maximise class time to lift achievement.

“New Zealand schools and overseas jurisdictions that have already imposed restrictions on cellphones in the classroom have reported better concentration and engagement in class, and an improvement in student achievement and wellbeing.

“Effective from Term 2 2024, students will need to put their cellphone away for the day and schools will be required to have a cellphone policy in place by then.

“While the policy officially takes effect from Term 2 2024, it is our expectation that most schools will implement the policy from Term 1.

“The implementation and enforcement of the policy will be at the discretion of individual schools to ensure it is implemented effectively for their school community. Options that have been successfully used in some schools include having students hand in their cellphones before class or leaving them in their lockers or bags for the day. Exemptions will be allowed for students with health conditions or in special learning circumstances.

“We are committed to working with educators to bring these policies to life.”

The Government is also establishing a Ministerial Advisory Group to review the primary school English, maths and statistics curricula.

“The intention for the review of the English and maths curricula is not to start again, but to build on the work that has already been done and strengthen this,” says Erica Stanford.

“The aim is to ensure teachers have the clarity and tools needed to teach these core subjects brilliantly. Work will be done in the first half of 2024, ready for implementation in 2025.

“We will make sure schools are teaching the basics brilliantly, so every child has the opportunity to succeed – in school and beyond.”

Kura with students in Years 0 – 8, run by a specified kura board, will have until Term 3 2024 for implementation of the requirement for one hour a day of each of reading, writing and maths, to enable consultation.

Specialist schools will have an extended 12 month deadline until Term 1 2025 to ensure the requirement for one hour a day of each of reading, writing and maths best supports teaching and learning for their students.

Ministerial Advisory Group members

Dr Michael Johnston (Chair)

Michael is a cognitive psychologist with experience in a variety of roles across the education sector. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the New Zealand Initiative where he leads the workstream on education. Michael has held academic positions at the University of Melbourne and Victoria University of Wellington, where he was Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Education. He has published research on human cognition, literacy acquisition and educational assessment. Prior to his time at Victoria, Michael was the Senior Statistician at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, where he developed technical processes for NCEA, including the grade score marking system for external examinations. He contributed to Ministry of Education policy work for the NCEA literacy and numeracy co-requisites and designed the framework for the Progress and Consistency assessment tool. He is a current member of NZQA’s Technical Overview Group on Assessment.

Dr. Audrey Tan

Audrey is a mathematics educator with more than 20 years’ experience helping primary and secondary school students to achieve significantly improved outcomes. With a deep belief that everyone can learn maths, Audrey has, for many years, advocated a more pragmatic approach to teaching maths in primary schools. Her professional learning and development for educators in a school setting focuses on effective teaching practices that are supported by the cognitive science of learning to raise both teacher confidence and student achievement. Audrey holds a B.Sc. Honours degree in Mathematics from the University of Canterbury and a Ph.D. in Pure Mathematics from the University of Cambridge. She was a member of the NCEA Numeracy Subject Expert Group and has contributed to the New Zealand curriculum refresh as a Subject Matter Expert.

Barbara Ala’atatoa

Barbara is a New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) refresh Coherence Group member for the New Zealand curriculum refresh project. She is the former Principal of Sylvia Park School and is currently an Education Consultant. Prior to this, she worked as a lecturer and senior lecturer at Auckland College of Education and as a primary school teacher. She has also chaired the National Ministerial Leadership and Teaching Quality Workstream and been a member of the National Workforce Policy Advisory Group and National Curriculum Advisory Group which had a real focus on progress and achievement and building leader and teacher capability. She has chaired the Boards of Te Kura (2019 to 2022) and Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (2015 to 2019) and was on the Independent Taskforce on the Review of Tomorrow’s Schools. Her current role is chair of Ako Mātātupu Teach First NZ.

Christine Braid

Christine is a facilitator at the Institute of Education, Massey University with expertise in junior reading. She contributed to the New Zealand curriculum refresh specifically on literacy and is currently leading the Literacy@Massey training programme, where she works with teachers across New Zealand to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to significantly improve children’s literacy outcomes. She has a background as a primary school teacher and literacy facilitator, and more recently as an educational researcher in the area of literacy. She was part of the Massey University Early Literacy Research Project and lead facilitator on the Ministry of Education contract for teacher training in TEPiL.

Professor Elizabeth Rata

Professor Elizabeth Rata is a sociologist of education in the School of Critical Studies, Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She is Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU) and leads the Knowledge Rich School Project which focuses on national curriculum design.

Associate Professor Fiona Ell

Fiona is an Associate Professor in School of Curriculum Pedagogy, University of Auckland. She is a Lead subject matter expert for the Mathematics and Statistics writing team for the New Zealand curriculum refresh. Fiona was a member of the Royal Society Expert Panel on Mathematics Education from January to July 2021. She undertakes research in the area of mathematics education and prepares teachers to teach primary level mathematics and statistics.

Distinguished Professor Gaven Martin

Gaven is a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Massey University, and Chair of the New Zealand Mathematical Research Institute. He is the former head of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study and chaired the Royal Society Te Apārangi Royal Society Panel 2021 providing advice to the Ministry of Education on refreshing the mathematics and statistics learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum. The Royal Society’s report was titled “Pāngarau Mathematics and Tauanga Statistics in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

Helen Walls

Helen is a professional learning facilitator and researcher specialising in the teaching of writing, structured literacy, school-wide data analysis, formative assessment and feedback. She has 20 years’ experience working in schools. Helen assists schools to plan effective programmes which are closely aligned with student needs. She is passionate about supporting teachers, sharing evidence-based methods that will engage with every student.

Iain Taylor

Iain is an experienced Principal and educational leader. For the last 15 years he has led Manurewa Intermediate School as Principal. In this role he has worked to improve student attendance and achievement and was recognised for his service in 2017 as recipient of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Educational Excellence Award. Outside the classroom, Iain has led the New Zealand Principals’ Federation as their president and worked on the ERO Advisory Board.

Professor James Chapman

James is an Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University. His research interests include literacy learning difficulties, cognitive-motivational factors associated with low achievement, and learning disabilities Reading Recovery. James is an experienced researcher and university teacher based at Massey University. As well as having over 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books on learning disabilities, literacy learning issues, dyslexia/literacy difficulties, and cognitive motivation factors in learning and achievement, James has been an advisor for the University of Canterbury Better Start Literacy Approach research and was a member of the Ministry of Education Literacy Experts Group.

Lorraine Taylor

Lorraine is an experienced Primary School Principal and mentor /coach for other principals. She is currently the principal of Silverstream School Upper Hutt after serving in principal roles in three Rotorua primary schools. Lorraine has been involved in Ministry of Education work for a number of years, notably in the development and testing for the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT).

Dr. Melissa Derby

Melissa is a Senior Lecturer teaching early literacy and human development at the University of Waikato. She is the co-Director of the Early Years Research Centre, hosted by the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research at the University of Waikato. Melissa completed her PhD in Education at the University of Canterbury, and her project was a part of A Better Start National Science Challenge. Her primary area of research is in early literacy, in particular exploring the role of whānau in fostering foundational literacy skills.

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