Clearer sinuses, better schools

Simon Court ACT MP and Undersecretary to the Minister for RMA Reform and Infrastructure.

As we head into winter, many of us are feeling the effects of colder nights and shorter days, and even seasonal colds. Under the previous Government we could have expected to be told to stay home, put a teddy in the window and definitely don’t talk to your neighbour!

With ACT front and centre in the Coalition Government you can now soldier on, because we have brought back pseudoephedrine in cold remedies. After over a decade of silly bans and finger wagging, now you can get the good stuff again. It is a small change, but given that New Zealand’s productivity is declining year on year, ACT believes we should do whatever we can to make workplaces more productive.

It’s not just runny noses in the office or on the construction site slowing New Zealand down – our children have not received the quality of education they need to succeed in the 21st century.

ACT campaigned to make Charter Schools mainstream, and we are delivering in Government. $153 million in new funding will be provided over four years to establish and operate up to 15 new charter schools and convert 35 state schools to charter schools in 2025 and 2026 depending on demand and suitability.

When the legislation is introduced to Parliament in the coming months, the application process will open. Once it has passed, the first charter contracts will be negotiated and signed before the end of the year so the first schools can open for term one 2025.

The pilot run by the previous government that ACT was part of is informing the revised charter school model. Notably, charter schools were subject to high levels of monitoring and accountability and could be shut down when they did not achieve the outcomes they were funded to achieve. State schools don’t have this accountability.

In the United Kingdom, 40 per cent of primary schools and 80 per cent of secondary schools are academies (charter schools), and in the United States around 25 per cent of schools are charter schools.

A 2023 study by the Centre for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in the United States found charter schools produced positive learning outcomes for students when compared to public schools, and that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds experience greater outcomes.

ACT exists to make Government work for everyone, not union donors or corporate mates. Families on low incomes and with few options for children failing at school will benefit the most from Charter Schools.

Associate Education Minister David Seymour has developed a more efficient Healthy School Lunches Programme for the Government, saving taxpayers approximately $107 million a year compared to how Labour funded it, by embracing innovation and commercial expertise.

The Healthy School Lunches Programme will continue, alongside a new targeted programme for up to 10,000 two-to-five-year-olds in early learning services. The new targeted programme to provide food to 10,000 two-to-five-year-olds who attend low-equity, not-for-profit, community-based early learning services, funded using the cost savings found in the lunch programme. The first 1,000 days are key to a child’s development.

ACT is proud to be front and centre of the Coalition Government, showing we can innovate to help even more children who need it, and help mums and dads soldier on with the good stuff.

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