NZ Outdoors Party Policy on Education

Our Vision: We want to create a country where we are admired by the world not just because of our wonderful natural environment, but because of the way we live. A way of life that protects and enhances that environment.

This policy and associated papers are copyright. NZ Outdoors Party. 23rd April 2020.

Our mission is to provide a holistic, inclusive and empowering education system where every person will thrive and learn how to make conscious, responsible and informed choices about their future. 

Our goal is to create a unique educational framework that recognises the important place of the outdoors environment and our community for our social, cultural and economic well-being and reflects our unique NZ way of life.   

Appreciation of the environment and belonging

We believe that the Outdoors is at the heart of the NZ way of life and that education should involve an appreciation of this. We want to create an education system that teaches learners about their own unique community and outdoor environment so that they can develop a strong sense of belonging and connection to it.

We want to see a future where children grow up to become lifelong learners who are confident in, connected to and actively involved in the outdoors so they are inspired to engage in and contribute to an ecologically sustainable future.

Promote outdoor education initiatives

Our policy recognises the importance of the Outdoors as a strong factor in our past, present and future and links to our other policies that have a strong theme of community and localism.

Tramping trips and outdoor education is very important for developing teens

We will strongly advocate for recognition of our NZ heritage and history and we will promote and fund outdoor education initiatives such as conservation and restoration projects, recreation activities, programmes such as Garden to Table and Enviroschools, as well as other nature based and local initiatives that foster sustainability and community well-being.
We also want to ensure that regenerative agriculture and organic horticulture are implemented as key modules of learning in the secondary and tertiary sector for the benefit of New Zealand’s future economy and environment.

Invest in education to support teachers

Kids playing and learning in rockpool

We will invest heavily into education because we recognise that our people, their skills and knowledge are our greatest assets for the future. We will implement transformative change to our education system as recommended in the Tomorrow Schools Review to establish quality leadership models and support structures to ensure teachers workloads are manageable and teachers are valued. We want to ensure that teachers are well trained, supported and valued to provide the best practice and the best educational experience for all learners.

Pay parity

Our strategy will be to work collaboratively to ensure that pay parity between the ECE and Primary and Secondary sectors can be achieved as soon as possible. 

Address teacher/student ratios

Our investment in education will ensure that we will provide adequate funding for better ratios that are based on best practice. This will help to ensure that quality care is provided to all learners through individualised teaching and learning.

Wider funding for students with learning needs and re-introduce learning units where students with challenging behaviors and those with specific learning needs can attend to engage with trained and experienced teachers under a carefully developed learning program to meet their extensive needs.

Technology and wi-fi

We believe that technology has its place in education and we will promote safe technology use in homes and education facilities.

Wi-Fi free schools policy throughout New Zealand early childcare centres and primary schools and all schools must adopt wired connections for all devices and computers within classrooms.

Minimise Wi-Fi at high school and  assist high schools to adopt wired connections for classrooms and learning areas.

Work with telecommunications companies such as Chorus to provide all schools with high-speed fibre optic wired-in connections.

We will promote safe technology as a useful tool for innovation that helps learners to think critically and creatively.

Copyright and credits

This policy and associated papers are copyright. April 2020. NZ Outdoors Party.

This policy is the work or a number of people and specialist in the team namely candidates: Heidi Jensen-Warren, Darlene Morgan and other team members.

Holistic education and care for the disabled

We would introduce changes to bring about equality for disabled children in regard to their education (including early childhood education)

We already have an amazing prototype for excellent care for the intellectually disabled here in New Zealand. The Hohepa organisation has homes and schools for those who need extra help to function in our modern world. Hohepa Centres support youth (and also adults) based on nourishing body, mind and soul with growing, cooking and eating beautiful organic food, artistic endeavours, nature, movement and therapies. We could establish local Hohepa centres all over New Zealand, those with disabilities will be supported to live their best lives.

They would incorporate Outdoor Classrooms, gardening and other outdoor activities, exercise and getting out into nature for mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

These centres will support art therapy, and artistic and performance art such as singing and dancing. These are great mediums that give children great satisfaction and helping coordination, balance, socialisation etc and people can often surprise us when they discover their artistic talent.

We will refund ‘sheltered work shops’ that were de-funded by previous governments. These are small’ish local spaces that people can get together, learn new skills, make things of value to their communities, make some pocket money, and make friends. The parents/carers help out or take precious time for themselves. Previously, these organisation didn’t need to make a profit, as they were topped up by government funds. The leaders were caring and supportive and understanding. These centres filled an important need in the community. Carers really missed them when they went and communities lost a valuable resource.

Support for dyslexia & neurodiverse learning styles

Between 5% and 10% (possibly up to 17%) of New
Zealand’s population is considered to have the learning difference
known as dyslexia. Dyslexia is a neurological difference in the
processing of visual information. A dyslexic may experience difficulty
with writing and language, but have a high comprehension and
understanding of spoken language. It is highly under ‘diagnosed’ due to lack of understanding within the education system.

Dyslexics and other neuro-diverse learners and thinkers, are discriminated against in New Zealand schools and universities, and their skills and talents under utilised. Too many dyslexics fail due to lack of support and diagnosis.

The Outdoors Party understands that small changes in teaching methods can support different learning styles, so more children may succeed. In fact, studies show when you teach for dyslexics – everybody does better.

We will fund dyslexia diagnosis to make sure children get the correct teaching style early, rather than allow them to grow despondent and lose confidence.

We will fund teacher training for neurodiversity education and support pathways for the neuro-diverse learners to become teachers themselves, as they are better able to understand difficulties students are in and champion new education methodology to ensure better learning outcomes, hence better school experiences and more confidence to take on higher education challenges.

Outdoors Party Education Policy – Specifics

  • A return to phonics based teaching and learning in reading and writing.
  • Revising old time proven methods of teaching and incorporating them into the modern classroom
  • Increased funding to ensure more teacher aides are working within classrooms
  • Teacher aide training to assist children with specific behavioural and/or learning needs.
  • Forming close and ongoing ties between schools and already existing outside extra educational support providers and groups such as The New Zealand Cadet Corps, Bro’s for Change.  Provide funding and support for such projects. 
  • Nature based schooling options in New Zealand, which involve the outdoors; natural landscapes, animals, plants and water, in everyday learning experiences and foster a love, appreciation and understanding of the natural world and our place in it.
  • A return to using and utilizing natural spaces within already established schools and minimizing the use of computer screens to ensure the eye and mental health of students is protected.
  • A renewal and return to using text books, paper and pencils/pens in schools, from primary to high school to promote age appropriate learning outcomes and better social emotional development. 
  • Introducing community based learning and immersion projects for high schools whereby students and teachers take on projects outside the school to foster relationships within the community, encourage social emotional learning, develop leadership skills and promote social cohesion and co-operation.
  • Wider funding for students with higher teaching requirements and re-introduce learning units where students with challenging behaviors and those with specific learning needs can attend to engage with trained and experienced teachers under a carefully developed learning program to meet their extensive needs.
  • Support and training for teachers and staff to identify and respond to students with special needs in an appropriate way.
  • Funding to support students with Alcohol Fetal Syndrome through workshops and training for  teachers and support staff.
  • Wider access to and implementation of Montessori style learning programs within the early childhood and primary school sector  across New Zealand.
  • Support for alternative learning schools across New Zealand and recognition of the teachers within this schools and support for them to retain their teaching registration.
  • Development of technical high schools that support students from year 11 -13 and provide more real world experiences, hands on learning with clear career paths and access to industry and workplaces throughout the school week.
  • Garden to Table projects throughout all primary and high schools in New Zealand.  Horticulture/Permaculture and organic gardening practices should be introduced at primary level.
  • Provide extra training and support for teachers with professional development that is practical, easily implemented within the classroom and applicable to the school and classroom.
  • Extend teacher registration window to ten years to account for the necessity of women to have a work life balance and recognize the lack of work opportunities for teachers within certain areas of New Zealand.
  • Different teacher registration criteria for relief teachers

Tertiary Education and Fees Policies

The Outdoors Party believes that a tertiary education should be quality, fit for purpose, accessible and affordable.

We strongly promote education and life experience and believe support should be widened to offer choices for those who prefer an “education in life”, offering service to the community or environment as alternatives to academic education.

We believe that there are some benefits with paying Uni fees – and certainly New Zealand student’s fees are already highly subsidised.

1) students appreciate their course more and put more effort in knowing that they are committed to their education.

2) students feel empowered to request “value for money” and legitimately complain about poor lecturers or something else wrong in the system. The Outdoors Party believes that students should have more power to make changes to problems and unnecessary obstacles within the tertiary education institution.

3) we differentiate between loans for student fees and student loans for other purposes

We would like to see people start their working life on a positive note, feeling rewarded for their years of hard mahi, not overwhelmed and exhausted.  We will work with the Ministry of Education for the best way to make that happen.

Our policies:

1) The current “first year free” policy should be changed to the “third year free” to encourage students to complete their education.

2) University fees should otherwise apply but until your fees loan is paid off, your tax should pay off your student loan (Rapid Repay) so it’s a substantial tax deduction. This policy would make ALL tertiary education fees tax deductible.

3) University fees should be waived if you commit to work in a field or location that needs more graduates. The Outdoors Party wants to support and reinvigorate our rural communities. 

4) Create a university fee interest amnesty – anyone overseas who has amassed a fees loan over the years – can return, and go into the rapid repay tax deduction mechanism. Interest waived if they stay at least three years.

5) Student loans for other than fees would still need to be repaid but using a low interest rate because the government should empower people to get ahead.

6)  Fund/subsidise student holiday jobs, particularly in the field of study, to reduce  financial stresses, gain work experience and increase future job opportunities. 

New Zealand government should properly fund our universities and should no longer accept funding from foreign governments, or corporations, that might alter the valuable independence that universities require for free speech, excellent independent research, innovations etc.

The Outdoors Party will task the MOE to more closely coordinate student numbers with professional requirements within NZ and better connect academia with training and employment pathways.

We will support the creation of courses that include strategising, thinking, asking better questions, research, courage, resilience and ethics, and how to create change within rigid systems that currently limit our thinking and behaviour and real life experience. We need required courses within professional courses for basic business and employee/employer relationship skills as this can be the difference between success and failure in starting one’s professional career.

We need to start providing high level lecturers on video/streaming so students can 1) return to a lecture to revise in their own time (good for dyslexics) and 2) the university can access lectures from the world’s best teachers/resources.   This would reduce costs, free up lecturers for practical work and tutorials, and allow the university to refine and improve lectures over time, keeping the ones with the best learning outcomes.

We need more post-graduate professional development courses that are flexible and informal encouraging professional graduates to continually update their knowledge (instead of leaving this job to industry).

We want more scholarships to encourage diversity and to make tertiary education accessible for the neuro-diverse. For example, dyslexics almost never qualify for scholarships due to their difficulty with reading and writing, and yet they bring a valuable viewpoint to many professions.  We would like to see more support and understanding for dyslexics/different learning styles to reduce barriers to participation and prevent discrimination.

Many universities are increasing course numbers (Covid may change this) without taking any responsibility for ensuring quality, affordable accommodation. A more holistic coordinated approach is required to decentralise training and ensure adequate student facilities are available. The solution to increasing student numbers is government investment in more university-owned accommodation.  

Tracy Livingston, B. App Science (Osteopathy)

Sue Grey  LLB (Hons), B.Sc

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Alan Simmons

Alan Simmons

President & Co-Leader Alan has dedicated a lifetime of involvement in outdoors political issues. He’s sat on a number of national body executives, boards, NGO and management groups, including the NZ Professional Hunting Guides Association, Electricorp Environmental Management Board, NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and the NZ Professional Fishing Guides Association. Many will know him through his website, the hugely popular New Zealand FishnHunt forum.

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