15 Aug 2022

Govt cut pay parity funding for ECE teachers to balance books, documents reveal

5:33 pm on 15 August 2022

The government reduced pay parity funding for early childhood teachers in its May Budget to keep its education spending within agreed limits, briefing documents show.

the little boy twists the bolt into a wooden machine  on floor in room.

(File image) Photo: 123RF

It also scaled back subsidy increases for education providers and slightly reduced funding for changes to the school system.

The documents, which were part of the Budget information release, showed Education Minister Chris Hipkins was under pressure to keep the four-year cost of education spending rise close to $2 billion.

A March Treasury report said Hipkins had made difficult trade-offs to reduce the size of his bid for funding, but it suggested further changes including reducing across-the-board subsidy increases for schools, early childhood services and tertiary institutes from more than 2.8 percent to 2.3 percent or possibly 1.5 percent.

It also suggested increasing funding for alternative education and increasing funding for the equity index, which would replace the decile as the means of allocating funding to tackle socio-economic disadvantage, from $75 million per year to $100 million per year.

"Because it is very well targeted, the Treasury considers this initiative has excellent value for money and alignment with Government priorities. It especially benefits ākonga Māori and Māori-medium kura, for whom deciles underestimate disadvantage," the Treasury report said.

"This increase would need to be matched with an equivalent decrease elsewhere in the package. We recommend doing this by reducing the general schools' operational grant cost adjustment from REDACTED to 1.5 percent. When combining the scaled-up Equity Index and cost adjustment initiatives, the overall operational grant increase would remain well above inflation at REDACTED."

The government decided not to do that. Instead it opted for a 2.75 percent subsidy increase to schools, early childhood services and tertiary institutes, saving tens of millions of dollars, and increased equity index funding to between $80m-85m per year.

The documents showed the government also trimmed funding which would help early-childhood centres pay teachers the same as schoolteachers.

"A REDACTED lower scaled option reduces, at the margin, the size of the increases for steps 7-10 for teachers in education and care (saving REDACTED and reduces uptake assumptions for home-based care (saving $1.069m)," an Education Ministry report from March said.

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