1 Jun 2012

Support parties concerned at class size changes

10:38 pm on 1 June 2012

National looks likely to come under pressure from its political allies to resolve the fallout over the Government's new teacher-pupil ratio policy.

The Government announced in the Budget in May it is setting new teacher-student ratios in schools that will result in larger class sizes and schools losing teaching positions. From 2013, the teacher-student ratios for Years 2 to 10 will increase to one teacher to 27.5 students.

As well as a backlash from teachers and parents, two of the Government's support parties have reservations.

The Maori Party says it is disappointed it was not told before the Budget about the new policy.

MP Te Ururoa Flavell says the party did get a general overview of education in the pre-Budget briefing, but the detail of what has come out over the past week was not discussed.

"So is it a surprise - well, I suppose you could put it in that category."

United Future leader Peter Dunne also says the real implications were certainly not made clear during his pre-Budget briefing from the National Government.

Mr Dunne has become increasingly concerned as the policy's full impact has become clear, saying the potential closure of technology centres and effect on schools and students are particularly worrying.

A spokesperson for acting Prime Minister Bill English says Mr Dunne has been contacted on Friday and Mr English is happy to have further briefings for support parties to discuss any concerns.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says United Future and the Maori Party have the opportunity to show they are prepared to make stand on the issue.

Mr Shearer says they must use their power to force National to drop the policy completely.

The Government does not need to pass a specific law to implement the ratio changes. Education appropriations reflecting the new policy were contained in Budget legislation passed last week.

There was no mention of it during the election campaign last year.