What's in the Budget for the Rotorua education sector? Journalist Kelly Makiha finds out from local leaders what they like and what they don't like.
Rotorua education leaders are feeling optimistic about Budget funding, saying it'll encourage older students into trades and look after the wellbeing of younger students by giving them free lunches.
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh was excited by funding for trades academies.
"We know we have a shortage of tradespeople so this will provide huge incentive for secondary school students looking for a career pathway."
Walsh said many students would now actively look at going into trades which would be good for investment in infrastructure projects in the pipeline.
He said he believed learning support had been underfunded for a long time so it was good to see investment in that.
While secondary schools won't benefit from the free school lunches programme Walsh said that would be a big help for primary schools.
"A lot of families are struggling to the point of poverty, worried about putting food on the table. The Prime Minister is right, you can't learn on an empty stomach so having children well-fed is a basic requirement and that's something that's a good investment."
Mamaku School principal Gary Veysi welcomed the investment into learning support.
"It's not that they've been overlooked but often there are other priorities in the education sector and these areas are important too."
As a decile 3 school Mamaku School wasn't included in the initial free school lunches rollout and Veysi hoped they'd be in line when the programme was expanded from feeding 8000 pupils to 200,000 by mid next year.
"From what I've heard it's been fantastic ... When kids come to school hungry they are going to struggle to learn."
But he said it was important to review the programme regularly.
"I want to know if it's having an impact on children's learning.
"We have to be saying, 'is it the right place to put money?', because there are a lot of people doing it hard because of Covid-19. Is money for lunches the best way to use that money and that's not for me to answer but it needs to be constantly reviewed."
Natalie Richards from Kapai Kai Rotorua, a school-lunch provider in Rotorua, said they were really happy more children would get access to the scheme.
"We don't know how it will affect us yet but we are super stoked there will be more children having access to this programme. The benefits have been really clear, we have seen them and the schools have seen them too. Hopefully they are in Rotorua."
Westbrook School associate principal Rachel Weinberg said an extension to the scheme as great news.
"We are fortunate as a school to have Kapai Kai as one of our lunch providers and fully support these local charities as a way of bringing nutritious, low cost meals to our students at school. This funding will allow more schools and Kiwi kids to benefit from partially or fully funded school lunches."
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology chief executive Leon Fourie said free trades training for critical courses such as building, construction and agriculture was a great start to help retrain those who lose their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 fallout.
He said he would await further information on the $20 million student hardship fund but it was good to see this being implemented.
"We also await to see if there is any other mention of other student support which would be welcomed.
"What we would like to see as flow on from the Budget quickly is significantly greater flexibility in relation to policy and funding settings so that providers, such as Toi Ohomai, can deliver more short learning programmes and micro-credentials. This flexibility would enable a skills response plan that would in-turn help fast track economic recovery."
He said Toi Ohomai looked forward to reviewing this in depth over the next couple of days as more detail was released.
Key education points:
* $375.1 million operating total includes early childhood education subsidies, schools operations grants, trades academies and tertiary education subsidies.
* Learning Support ($79.7 million operating total): Funding to maintain learning support service delivery, funding for English for speakers of other languages teaching staff and funding for the School High Health Needs Fund which offers teachers' aide support for students with high health needs.
* Extension of school lunch scheme from 8000 pupils to 200,000 pupils by next year.