31 May 2012

Minister announces contingency fund for schools

5:04 am on 31 May 2012

Education Minister Hekia Parata says there will be an annual contingency fund of between $10 million and $20 million to help schools as they move to the new teacher-pupil funding ratio.

The ratios announced in the Budget last Thursday will result in larger class sizes, and schools have raised concerns about how many teachers they will have to lose as a result.

Ms Parata announced on Tuesday that no school's staffing entitlement will be reduced by more than two fulltime teachers over the next three years.

On Wednesday, she announced that between $10 - $20 million would be available over that timeframe.

Ms Parata said she can not be specific about exactly how much money will be needed, as school rolls for next year will not be set until September.

Meanwhile, intermediate school principals said a meeting with the minister on Wednesday morning in Auckland only made them angrier about changes to class sizes.

Hekia Parata was met with laughter as she told about 150 principals that they decide how their funding is allocated and decide their own teacher-student ratios.

Principals argued that if that is the case, then the Government should tell them what subjects should be axed. The minister refused.

Principals said they would keep fighting the cuts and believe that the Government will eventually back down.

The Labour Party said the Government's decision to water down its cuts to school staffing shows its education policy has not been properly thought out.

Education spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta said the Government had been prepared to accept big cuts to staffing for schools with children in Years 7 and 8 until the sector got wind of it.

Ms Mahuta said despite the change, some teachers will still lose their jobs.