Hekia Backpaddles

Govt. backs down: Ms Parata says teacher funding ratios ‘to remain the same’

 By Alan Tristram

After an unprecedented storm of protest — and opinion polls showing huge support for the teachers and state schools — the Government has completely reversed policy on its plan to cut teacher numbers and increase some class sizes.

The Education Minister, Hekia Parata, has just announced she is ‘moving to put parents’ and teachers’ minds at rest following decisions made in Budget 2012.’

Ms Parata says the Government has decided not to make any change to teacher:student funding ratios.

We have heard the concerns’

“We have heard the concerns of parents and are reversing this part of our education plan.

“We firmly focused on raising student achievement and getting five out of five of our kids succeeding and we continue to believe that investing in quality teaching and professional leadership is the best way to do this.

“We had thought that some modest changes to teacher:student funding ratios in Budget 2012 would help us fund this investment but over the past week; it has become apparent that these minor adjustments have caused a disproportionate amount of anxiety for parents, and that was never our intention.”

Government savings planned

The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership.

“Ms Parata says: “The Government will no longer be able to make that investment at this time.

“This will leave a net shortfall of $114 million over the four-year Budget forecast period. This shortfall is made up of $15 million in 2013/14 rising to about $50 million in subsequent years. There is no cost in 2012/13.

“The remainder of the savings will be achieved through a combination of a pre-commitment against Budget 2013, and other savings we will work to find within Vote Education.”

She says the Government will take its time ‘to work through those decisions in a balanced and considered way.’

Ms Parata adds: “Today’s changes will not affect the Government’s track to surplus in 2014/15.”

$512  more for education, says Ms Parata

As announced in the Budget , says Ms Parata, the Government is investing an extra $511.9 million in education over the next four years.  She says this takes the Government’s total investment in early childhood education and schooling to $9.6 billion for 2012/13.

“We remain committed to raising achievement and ensuring all our young people have the knowledge, skills and values to be successful in the 21st century,” Ms Parata says.

“We will work with the sector to address quality issues and lift student achievement. I am meeting with a number of sector organisations over the coming weeks.’’