Thursday's "Wellbeing Budget" looks set to fund school nurses, counsellors and driving instructors - leaving only a limited pot for teachers.
Child wellbeing will be central to a Government which Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said "will measure its success by how well we improve the living standards and wellbeing of all New Zealanders".
But if your focus is child wellbeing, then your approach to budgeting for education needs to be much wider than just making sure all children have high-quality teachers.
We can expect to see other initiatives, which have been on the Government's agenda since it took office in 2017, come to the fore this year.
Mental health will be a top Budget priority , and that could mean delivering on promises to fund more school nurses, pilot counsellors in primary schools and implement a promised "action plan" for learning support.
Another priority is "lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities". That could be the framework under which the Budget might deliver on a promise to fund driving instruction for high school students, given that Māori and Pacific young people are far less likely than average to have driver's licences that they need for most jobs.
Overall education spending will rise, probably heftily, but it will still be constrained both by the demands of other portfolios and by a need to plan for potentially even bigger education costs in future years arising from Bali Haque's taskforce on school governance, which is due to present its final report by June 30.
Here's a guide to what's been promised for education and what we might see.
Fees-free tertiary study
The Speech from the Throne in November 2017, which listed the new Coalition Government's plans, promised "an additional $6 billion over four years" in education. A quarter of that, $1.5b, was budgeted last year for scrapping fees for every student's first year of fulltime tertiary study or two years of industry training.
Robertson said this month that $197 million (12.6 per cent) has been chopped off the four-year funding because of below-forecast student numbers, and will be diverted to reforming vocational training.
Hosking: The BS Budget - this Govt's blown it already
Education Minister Chris Hipkins unveiled a draft plan in February to bring all vocational education, including polytechnic and work-based training, under a new national institute with a unified funding system. The $197m may be enough to cover the transitional and ongoing costs of the change.
The Speech from the Throne promised a bit more than another quarter of the $6b - $1.8b over four years - to "deliver more teachers, better professional development and more learning resources".
Despite a desperate teacher shortage, only a fraction of this has been allocated so far to recruiting and training more teachers - $9.5m in December 2017 , $10.5m last October and $95m over four years announced this month.
The Ministry of Education says its pay offers to primary and secondary teachers would cost $1.2b over four years - an "envelope" that Hipkins has stuck to in the face of Wednesday's planned "mega-strike".
Labour's 2017 manifesto promised "school-based health services in all public secondary schools" to help reduce New Zealand's appalling youth suicide rate. School nurses are currently funded only in the poorest three deciles, and Labour proposed a $40m-a-year plan to fund 240 nurse hours per 100 students a year in all high schools.
The Speech from the Throne contained only a vaguer promise to "put more nurses in schools". The Budget may reveal what will finally be funded.
Labour's coalition deal with NZ First promised to "pilot counsellors in primary schools". A pilot programme has started in Canterbury and the Counsellors' Association's schools spokeswoman Jean Andrews says counsellors want it extended to at least intermediate schools nationally.
The Speech from the Throne promised to "ensure that every child with special needs and learning difficulties can participate fully in school life".
Last year's Budget made a big start , putting in an extra $249m over four years including early interventions for 1900 more preschoolers and 1000 extra places in the ongoing resourcing scheme (ORS).
But the average waiting time for early intervention has actually increased from 74 days a year ago to106 days, forcing Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin to admit that the funding " hasn't been enough ".
She produced a draft "action plan" last September including health checks for all 3-year-olds, screening for dyslexia, dyspraxia and giftedness aged 6 to 8, a centralised system to keep track of all children with extra needs, and a "flexible package of support" for children who need help but don't qualify for ORS.
Only one element of the plan is guaranteed to be in this Budget - 600 "learning support coordinators", costing $217m over four years, announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in November as "a first tranche", implying more to come in future years.
The rest of Martin's "action plan" is yet to be finalised, but a Budget focused on child wellbeing will surely provide some extra services for the new coordinators to coordinate.
Labour promised to reinstate higher funding for early childhood centres with 100 per cent qualified staff, a policy axed by National after the 2008 election.
This did not make it into the Speech from the Throne, but Hipkins issued a draft early learning plan last November proposing the higher funding rate plus improved staff ratios and other changes costing an extra $3.5b over 10 years, or $350m a year.
The plan was due to be finalised by Cabinet this month, so the Budget may provide for a start on what Hipkins has said will be staged improvements.
Driving, finance and civics
The Speech from the Throne said: "This Government will offer all high school students free driver training and financial literacy, as part of a toolkit giving all school-leavers valuable practical skills."
Labour's manifesto added education in "civics" to this plan and allocated $50m a year for the toolkit, plus $30m a year for better careers advice.
Martin said last year that the driving instruction scheme might be widened to include families after a pilot at Napier's William Colenso College found that half of students' family members at an early meeting did not have full driver licences.
However the Education Ministry has said schools will be free to choose whether to adopt elements of the toolkit. A set of resources for schools has appeared recently on the ministry's website and the Budget may include some funding to encourage schools to use it.
Ending parental 'donations'
One of Labour's high-profile election promises was to give $150 a year for every student to every school that stopped asking parents for "donations". The promise was costed at $70m a year, assuming it would be adopted by schools with 450,000 students (58 per cent of all state and integrated students).
The Speech from the Throne included a less detailed, but still explicit, pledge of "more funding to schools that do not charge fees".
When last year's Budget failed to act on this, Hipkins told National MP Nikki Kaye : "All of the commitments in the Speech from the Throne are subject to further Budget consideration if they weren't funded in this year's Budget. There are two further Budgets that the Government will be delivering over this term of Government."
Kaye, as Education Minister before the 2017 election, started developing an Auckland growth plan to double capital spending on Auckland schools from $160m to between $300m and $350m a year.
Labour's 2018 Budget lifted total education capital spending by just under $100m in 2018-19, but Kaye says the Government has not yet picked up most of her plans for Auckland.
"If you decided to make a big deal of it, you're looking at $900m," she says. "They might make that a centrepiece."
The Speech from the Throne promised to "ensure that all students have access to technology to support their learning".
The 2020 Trust says it would cost about $40m to provide subsidised devices and internet access for the remaining 25,000 to 30,000 homes with school-aged children that still don't have internet access. But there is no sign that this will be in the Budget.