The education budget has barely passed in the books of two Northland principals who are underwhelmed by the funding.

While Budget 2018 saw an extra $1.6 billion being pumped into the sector, Pat Newman, Hora Hora Primary School principal and president of the Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association, and Myles Ferris, principal of Te Kura o Ōtangarei and president of Māori Principals' Association Te Akatea, have both graded it a C-.

"I'm deeply disappointed," said Newman.

"A lot of that money is catch up stuff to cover up a lot of the stuff that's been neglected over nine years ...There's nothing in there that's showing me a huge amount of hope to deal with some of the problems we've got up here."


The budget includes:

• $1.6 billion more in operating funding and $334 million in capital funding.
• $395m to build new schools and classrooms.
• $204m for a 1.6 per cent increase to schools' operational funding and to cover school roll growth.
• $370m to fund 1500 new teacher places by 202.
• Early childhood education: $590m to fund more places and a 1.6 per cent funding increase for ECE centres from January 2019.
• $272.8m for learning support such as teacher aides, ongoing resourcing scheme ORS, which provides support for students with complex learning needs, and early intervention.

Te Kura o Ōtangarei principal Myles Ferris. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Te Kura o Ōtangarei principal Myles Ferris. Photo/Michael Cunningham

But both Ferris and Newman are questioning where the 1500 teachers will come from.

"I'm underwhelmed. It's not just about saying we're getting 1500 teachers, it's about maintaining and keeping the ones we have now. We spend a lot of money in developing them to be quality teachers and if they get attracted elsewhere by better pay and better conditions, we're going to need more than 1500 to replace them," Ferris said.

Newman said he had expected some funding in the budget to go towards expertise like counsellors and extra social workers in schools as it was not just pay that is moving people away from the profession.

"The profession is emptying out faster than a bathtub. Where are they are going to get the 1500 from? People are not wanting to be teachers. They see them being assaulted, they seem them under huge pressure, they see them being not thanked and they see piss poor pay."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said while the Government can't do everything in one Budget, it is a good first step to fixing up the problems of the last nine years.

"The government is well aware of workload issues and has moved quickly to address them.

"We have ended National Standards, which teachers told us was massively time-consuming and counter-productive, and we are reviewing the NCEA, including over assessment and teacher workload.

"We have also started work on a plan to address teacher workforce challenges," he said.

Hipkins said pay negotiations with education unions were due to start soon.