Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Teachers want Government to 'come clean'

Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / APN
Education Minister Hekia Parata. Photo / APN

Teachers unions have called on the Government to "come clean'' on its education agenda after documents revealed a shake-up of schools could be planned.

Treasury documents given to the Finance Minister indicate major changes could take place in the education sector this year.

The Government spends $12.2 billion annually across the sector, and improving it is the Treasury's top priority, the papers show.

Changes this year could include a "total resourcing model", the documents say, which would provide "increased flexibility for principals to hold and manage budgets".

Other options put forward are centralising the management of school property, combining schools and/or boards, more teacher appraisal, and moving school reporting from students' performance to how much they have improved.

Teachers unions today said the Treasury ideas were designed primarily to save money, and called on Minister of Education Hekia Parata to "come clean'' on her education agenda.

"The Minister and Treasury were knocked back on increasing class sizes last year, and these policies are equally wrong-headed,'' said NZEI Te Riu Roa National president Judith Nowotarski.

"The Minister has no mandate to foist radical change on New Zealand's highly successful public schools or to re-introduce failed policies from the 1990s.''

In a statement released this afternoon, Ms Parata played down the significance of the Treasury advice.

"The Treasury supplies the Government with a lot of advice, but it doesn't mean we agree with it or accept it.''

She denied a radical overhaul of the school funding model was in the pipeline: "Our plan does not include bulk-funding schools''.

The Minister said the Government had increased investment in education in each of the last four Budgets.

"We are investing $9.6 billion into early childhood education and schooling in 2012/13 - the most ever.''

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Angela Roberts said the lack of consultation was frustrating.

"The trend that seems to be happening is that we won't know. Because they are not interested in discussing policy while it is being developed.

"Like class sizes, they announced it, and then discovered that the community didn't want it, the sector didn't want it, and that the evidence said it's no good.''

- NZ Herald

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