A billion dollar boost for education so every child can fly

A billion dollar boost is needed in Budget 2017 to preserve public education and ensure every child has the support they need to learn, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

NZEI commissioned independent economists Infometrics to cost key measures that would restore funding eroded from education, and address growing pressures and unmet needs. Along with a 4 percent increase in the school operations grant,  these amounted to just over $1billion.

"If New Zealand is serious about preserving public education for today's children and the next generation coming after them, a major funding boost will be needed in this weeks' budget," NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said.

"This isn't just about a funding catch-up - which is desperately needed - this is about putting children first and funding schools and ECE services to meet every child's needs."

NZEI members chose the key measures based on evidence about would have the most positive impact. These include:

  • A four percent increase in school operational grants to make up for a freeze in funding in last year's budget and pay for growing education costs, including pay rises for school support staff. NZEI estimates this at about $50 million a year.

The following measures were costed by Infometrics:

  • $56 million to restore funding for 100% qualified and certificated ECE teachers - axed by the Government in 2009 -  to ensure our youngest children get high quality learning
  • $210 million to restore ECE funding rates to 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation
  • $73 million for smaller class sizes for years 4-8 (where classes are currently the largest) so that teacher:student ratios fall from 1:29 to 1:25
  • $425 million so that more children with special needs can access support.  This would extend the number of students supported through the ongoing resource scheme (ORS) fund from roughly one percent of students now to three percent.
  •  $282 million to improve ratios for babies and toddlers under two from one teacher to five kids to one teacher to three kids.  This was a National Party pledge in the 2008 election that has never been implemented. 

"New Zealand can afford to fund education properly," Ms Stuart said.

"According to the OECD New Zealand spends 'well below' the average on primary education, or $1500 per child less than the OECD average.

"This Thursday the Government can choose to put children first and fund schools and ECE services so every child can fly," Ms Stuart said.

The Infometrics costing of NZEI Te Riu Roa budget measures can be found here.

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