26 May 2016

Principals and teachers disappointed by budget

5:50 pm on 26 May 2016

The Budget was disappointing and lack-lustre for schools, say groups representing principals and teachers, while a major early childhood group says it's a slap in the face.

The policy would be introduced in phases, with three year's free post-school education available from 2025.

The policy would be introduced in phases, with three year's free post-school education available from 2025. Photo: 123RF

The Budget included $1.44 billion of new spending for schools and early childhood, much of it for school property.

Principals Federation president Iain Taylor said he was not impressed.

"On the whole it's pretty lack-lustre in terms of across the whole sector of primary and intermediate schools. There's obviously some targeted funding, but it's not going to go to all schools."

However, Mr Taylor said the decision to include funding targeted to children from beneficiary families was positive.

The government said the money, which would total $12.3m per year once the policy was in place, would go to schools with children from families that had been on welfare benefits for a long time. It said the money would otherwise have been used to provide an increase to all schools' operations grants.

Post Primary Teachers Association general secretary Michael Stevenson said that decision was a surprise and the money would make little difference.

He said the Budget was generally disappointing.

"It just doesn't keep apace with the amount of tasks the government expects schools to do in this day and age."

Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand Sandy Pasley

Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand Sandy Pasley Photo: Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand

Secondary Principals Association president Sandy Pasley said the Budget did not have much for schools, but property funding of $882m over four years was significant because some schools had felt their building works were not being addressed.

For early childhood, the Budget provided money to cover an expected increase in enrolments, but for the second year in a row there was no increase to the amount of money centres received per child.

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said that would cost the average 50-place centre $13,000 a year.

He said accumulated cuts over the past five years had now reached $90,000 a year for the average centre.

Mr Reynolds said he was also disappointed there was no new funding for under-five-year-olds with special education needs, despite long waiting lists and complaints about lack of support.

Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand acting chief executive John Diggins said the Budget was a slap in the face for early childhood education providers.

He said the sector was struggling to provide high quality learning due to years of under investment.

"Since the removal of funding for 100 percent qualified teachers in 2010, and any increases to funding rates being less than half of CPI in recent years, the sector is really hurting and this is ultimately affecting children," he said.

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