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Education budget spreads limited funding thinly

Media Release

Education budget spreads limited funding thinly -- says NZSTA

The Government is obviously trying to spin out a limited amount of funding over a wide range of initiatives, says the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

General Manager Ray Newport says policy initiatives announced in the budget today for the school sector have a distinct feel of trying to spread limited funding over a number of topical areas.

He says aspects of the announcement are pleasing, with NZSTA welcoming increased funding for school principals and administrative support for small schools. It is also pleasing that there is a focus on support for implementation of the National Certificate in Educational Achievement and on projects for better monitoring and electronic administration.

Trustees will welcome initiatives to develop leadership and management capabilities for principals and in professional development for teachers, but will be disappointed that trustees don’t get the same commitment.

“The budget initiatives beg the question of when boards of trustees can expect a greater Government commitment to funding more extensive development and support services to support boards in the important role they play.”

He says while an annual adjustment in schools’ operational funding will be welcomed by boards, there is a clear sense of taking on the one hand and handing back on the other. There are also significant doubts over whether the increase will in fact meet the rising costs that schools face.

“There is an element of smoke and mirrors in the way the funding for the operations grant has been achieved. This increase has come at the expense of a reduction in the funding of school contents risk management insurance.”

NZSTA also has concerns with the initiative to broaden the risk management scheme as a justification for reducing funding to match current insurance premium costs. “This is a very complex area and NZSTA believes there is a clear potential for the budget initiative to be an overall cost rather than a saving.”

Ray Newport says NZSTA is calling for urgent talks with the Ministry over its concerns.

Initiatives such as establishing common standards in school administrative systems and assistance to schools through ICT helpdesks is a move in the right direction.

However the sector is sorely lacking a more cohesive strategy for assisting teachers and principals with strategies to better integrate ICT into the teaching and learning process.

Ray Newport says NZSTA is surprised that some of decisions seem to pre-empt changes proposed in the Education Amendment Bill (No2), particularly the reference to the replacing of school charters.

[ends]

For more information contact Ray Newport, phone (025) 449-629

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