Nearly half of the Government's Cabinet ministers send or have sent their children to elite schools which are unlikely to feel the effects of changes to classroom sizes.

A Herald survey of ministers found that at least seven of the sixteen Cabinet ministers with school-aged children sent all or some of their children to private schools. Four ministers refused to say where their children attended or could not respond, and five ministers said they had enrolled their kids in state schools.

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced as part of the Budget the new standardised ratio for Years 2 to 10 would be 27.5 students per teacher - up four students per teacher.

Critics of the changes to class sizes point out the National-led Government has doubled state subsidies to private schools in its time in charge, allowing them to keep class sizes smaller.


Quality Public Education Coalition chairman John Minto argued in the Herald yesterday that ministers had enrolled their children in schools which were unaffected by the proposed changes.

The Post Primary Teachers Association has also emphasised top private schools advertised small classes as one of their drawcards.

Prime Minister John Key's son attended King's College in Otahuhu, which said on its website: "Class sizes are limited and our policy of a low pupil-to-teacher ratio ensures students are given greater individual attention in the classroom."

Mr Key's daughter attended St Cuthbert's College, which similarly advertised the fact that it limited classes to 15 students "to allow for individual attention to each student".

Under the changes announced in the Budget, the Year 1 ratio of 15 students per teacher would remain the same, while Years 11 to 13 would be standardised to 17.3 students per teacher.

Most Cabinet Ministers were dismissive of Mr Minto's claims.

Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee said that although he attended exclusive Catholic school St Bede's College in Christchurch, he chose to send his children to a state school.

Ms Parata has sent her children to a range of schools from a Maori immersion school to a state school.


Cabinet Ministers:
Private school - 5
State school - 15
Ministers' children:
Private - 5
State - 5
Mix of State and Private - 2
No kids/non-school kids 4
Would not say 2
No response 2

John Key
State school (Burnside High School)
Children: Private

Bill English
Private (St Patrick's Silverstream)
Children: Mix of state and private

Gerry Brownlee
Private (St Bede's College in Christchurch)
Children: State

Steven Joyce
State (Spotswood College in New Plymouth and Kapiti College)
Children: Too young

Judith Collins
State (Matamata College)
Children: Would not say

Tony Ryall
State (would not say)
Children: Would not say

Hekia Parata
State (Ngata Memorial College)
Children: State

Chris Finlayson
Private (St Patrick's Silverstream)
No children

Paula Bennett
State (Taupor-nui-a-tai College)
Children: State

David Carter
Private (St Bede's College in Christchurch)
Children: Private

Murray McCully
State (Dargaville High School)
Children: Private

Anne Tolley
Colenso High, Napier
Children: Both State and Private

Jonathan Coleman
State school - Auckland Grammar School
Children: Too young

Tim Groser
State (Hutt Valley High School)
No response

Phil Heatley
State (would not say)
Children: Private

Kate Wilkinson
Private (St Margaret's College)
No children

Nathan Guy
State (Waiopehu College)
Children: State

Craig Foss
State (Naenae College)
Children: Would not say

Amy Adams
State (Rangitoto College)
Children: Private

Chris Tremain
State (Napier Boys High School)
Children: State