31 Aug 2020

National promises $4.8bn for education infrastructure

3:41 pm on 31 August 2020

National is promising to spend $4.8 billion on fast-tracking education infrastructure if elected in October.

Judith Collins speaks to school staff at New Plymouth Boys' High after announcing National's education infrastructure policy.

Judith Collins speaks to school staff at New Plymouth Boys' High after announcing National's education infrastructure policy. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Party leader Judith Collins says as much money as possible will be spent delivering new schools and classrooms to areas that urgently need them.

She says a National government would invest $2.8bn in the first 10 years of a three-decade school growth plan - a plan that is yet to be developed.

The party is confident that funding would build 60 new schools and enough classrooms to meet demand for an extra 100,000 students within a decade.

It would spend a further $2bn to fund an alliance of builders, educators and architects over five years on repairing, redeveloping and rebuilding schools.

This would be allocated based on roll size, building age, condition and community need.

National's education spokesperson Nicola Willis said the government had not done enough to prepare for the 100,000 school places expected to be required over the next 10 years.

"Too many schools wait too long for the new classrooms they need, forcing them to convert libraries and halls into teaching spaces. This is bad for teaching and learning, and it reduces the facilities that should be available to schools. This must change.

Nicola Willis

Nicola Willis. Photo: Supplied / National Party website

"While the potential demographic impact of Covid-19 is still unclear, it's likely that Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Queenstown will need extra investment to accommodate students as their populations grow," she said.

Schools would continue to receive existing property maintenance grants for work on Ministry of Education-owned buildings, as well as funding for capital upgrades allocated through the five-year agreement process.

The alliance would be used to streamline major repair and redevelopment projects costing more than $100,000 for the next five years. Schools could also use it to finish delivering any existing or planned projects worth more than $100,000.

Collins said the alliance would be incentivised to use local and small business sub-contractors.

"By creating a collaborative team approach, major contractors can bring professional disciplines to bare, buy material in bulk, find economies of scale and share knowledge.

"This will be particularly beneficial given the large number of school repair projects that are similar in nature. It will create certainty for the building sector by providing a clear pipeline of work and allowing them to develop expertise in school repair," she said.

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