Election 2014

7 Nov 2011

Tolley says school infrastructure spending needed

6:17 pm on 7 November 2011

National Party education spokesperson Anne Tolley has defended her party's plans to use money from the partial sale of state-owned assets to fund the upgrade of schools.

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Last week National's leader John Key announced that the first $1 billion from any partial sale of assets would be ring-fenced for education infrastructure.

In an education debate on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme, Mrs Tolley said the money would go towards work on schools including on leaky buildings, earthquake resistance work and modernising.

She said 60% of schools are 50 years old or more, and many schools such as those in rural areas cannot afford the cost of rebuilding.

Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty described the plan as "ludicrous" and a one-off appeasement for opponents of asset sales.

"We need a long-term investment in schools not based on the sale of state assets," she said.

Asked whether Labour's costings will take into account the expense of repairing leaky school buildings - estimated at $1.5 billion - as well as earthquake resistance, Labour education spokesperson Sue Moroney said the party would address the issues over time.

The Maori Party's Kaapua Smith said her party wants to see money invested in a long-term education strategy which supports children up to employment.

Labour promises early childhood education funding boost

Ms Moroney told the programme that Labour would restore funding to early childhood centres to employ more fully qualified teachers.

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She said rolls had dropped and costs had risen since the Government cut higher funding rates for early childhood services where more than 80% of teachers are fully qualified.

"What we've had is an 11% increase in costs for parents for early childhood education in just the last 12 months alone."

Ms Moroney said Labour would restore the funding over time, and the Green Party's Catherine Delahunty said her party would support this.

However Mrs Tolley said National actually increased overall spending in early childhood education by about 40%.

She said National has a target of getting up to 80% of qualified teachers in each centre from a level of about 67% across the sector at the moment.

National standards confusing, say Greens

The Greens' Catherine Delahunty said parents are confused by national standards and don't understand how their child is doing under them.

"What we need to do is build those quality relationships in smaller classes in schools, and we need to have professional development which has been narrowed to literacy and numeracy. Children don't learn through a narrowed curriculum."

Last week, the Greens announced the party would scrap national standards, saying they are flawed and should not have been forced on schools.