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Minister dismantles National lies about education

Minister dismantles National's lies about education

Claims that Budget 2005 delivered more funding to the Ministry of Education than to schools has been attacked by Education Minister Trevor Mallard as one of a series of National Party lies.

Speaking at the New Zealand School Trustees Association's (NZSTA) annual conference in Auckland Trevor Mallard set about dismantling what he described as a series of "myths" the opposition had constructed about education in New Zealand.

Trevor Mallard outlined figures which showed that schools in the 2006 calendar year would receive extra funding of $65 million, or around six times the new funding that went to Ministry projects. This included $22 million in extra new operational funding to schools.

"That schools didn't get a substantial increase in funding out of the budget is a complete myth," said Trevor Mallard. "Bill English has repeatedly said this. It is one of his biggest lies."

Trevor Mallard also went on to attack claims by National that the bureaucracy in Wellington was out of control. He said as at 1 January 2005, of the Ministry's 2300 full time equivalent staff, some 1821 were working in special education – which was incorporated into the Ministry in February, 2002.

"These are people such as speech and language therapists, education psychologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. As you would know in your schools – these are the frontline," Trevor Mallard told the audience.

"Nor are they all based in Wellington. If we look at the total head count for the Ministry, which includes temporary staff and those employed for only part of a week, there are 3180 staff. Of this, 75 per cent or 2390 are employed outside of the capital. And they are delivering directly to schools. Some 71 per cent of those employed by the Ministry (that's 2265 people) are providing direct support to learners and teachers or directly to schools and their governance bodies." Trevor Mallard also indicated his frustration at those who were continually saying our schools were failing students. He pointed to the Programme for International Student Assessment 2003 survey where the performance of New Zealand 15-year-olds was significantly higher than the OECD mean for mathematics, reading, science, and for problem solving.

"Many of our students are achieving at the highest levels by international standards. Our education system is quite frankly not only world class but world leading – we need to acknowledge and celebrate that more often," said Trevor Mallard.

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