2010 Budget: Staffing threat withdrawn but no real plan
Teachers and parents who have been angered by the $50 million staffing cuts signalled in last year’s Budget will be relieved that the threat has been withdrawn, PPTA president Kate Gainsford says.
There are however a number of areas of serious concern in the 2010 Budget, and no overarching plan for secondary schools, she said.
“We are pleased the government has realised that a staffing cut of that magnitude would have had a disastrous impact on class sizes and schools’ ability to deliver the curriculum.
“It is also pleasing to see increased investment in high speed broadband and school infrastructure,” she said.
“This kind of investment is making a difference and will continue to do so. It shows far-sighted thinking, in contrast to some of the more short-sighted cuts in this Budget.”
Gainsford was concerned that the 2010 Budget was putting taxpayer money into private hands as a government priority.
Despite preaching its ‘austerity drive’ to the public sector the government has pledged an extra $1.7 million towards scholarships to help students attend private schools and plans to invest $2.5 million in investigating public/private partnerships, Gainsford said.
“Surely this money should not be diverted from ensuring a quality public education for all New Zealanders?”
A 4% increase to the operations grant, while welcomed, was unlikely to result in reduced ‘donations’ needed by schools serving the large majority of students in the public system, Gainsford said.
She also felt the scant detail and lack of strategy around the $11.4 million being pumped into National’s Youth Guarantee would not help the serious problem of young people who are not in education, employment or training (also known as NEETs) on the scale that was required to make a difference.
“At the last count there were more than 22,000 NEETS out there. It is hard to see how 500 extra places in a scheme that doesn’t really exist yet will help.
“However, we are hopeful that the government will engage constructively and positively with PPTA in moving forward with plans that will make a difference,” she said.