A $205 million education surplus for the 11 months to May was partially due to paying less than expected on teacher salaries, the Ministry of Education says.
The latest Crown accounts recorded a $1.2 billion surplus in the timeframe, almost $1 billion more than was forecast in the Budget for the same point.
The figures indicate Finance Minister Bill English could yet record the full year surplus he was targeting, despite May's Budget forecasting a $684 million deficit.
Treasury said today the $1.2 billion surplus was predominantly due to higher tax revenue than expected, including $395 million more in corporate tax and $112 million in individual's tax.
However, GST was $205 million lower than expected.
The Government had also spent $433 million less than forecast, including $205 million in education.
A Ministry of Education spokesperson said the biggest part of that variance was for $27 million in teacher salaries.
That was 0.7 per cent of the total $3.7 billion forecast for teacher salaries.
In a statement, the ministry said the variance was usual for this time of the year, and was influenced by how many children started school compared to forecast.
"We always build in a safety margin in case more children start school than expected."
The ministry would expect the picture to change when it had the full year's expenditure that would include June.
It said what was seen in the figures did not affect school budgets in any way.
"They are receiving all the operational, property and other funding they would expect."
Those sort of budget variances were mainly due to timing and were quite common - for example when expenditure happened sooner or later than expected and changes in levels of forecast demand for programmes, the ministry said.
Total Crown revenue for the period was $87 billion and Crown expenses were $85.5 billion.
The full year figures will be known in October.
More information on the education figures is expected tomorrow.