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Nats underestimate bulk funding cost by millions

30 August 2005

Nats underestimate bulk funding cost by millions

The cost of National's destructive policy of forcing schools into bulk funding is grossly underestimated and would lead to experienced teachers being forced from classrooms if National were ever elected, Education Minister Trevor Mallard warned parents today.

"Now that we know from the leaked emails that the radical rightwing Business Roundtable is claiming responsibility for National's education policy, it is not surprising National is misleading voters about the true cost of forcing schools into bulk funding," Trevor Mallard said.

"Its shoddy approach to basic government accounting demonstrates yet again this party has no credibility and is unfit to govern.

"This party is not about leadership, it is about dividing New Zealand communities and pitting them against each other. Parents and teachers will remember the destructive fight over bulk funding last time the Nats were in power.

"National has promised that no teacher will lose out, which is laughable as it has underestimated the cost of its policy by over a billion dollars over a four-year forecast period. Not only will teachers lose out as a result, so will schools, so will students and so will their parents.

"National's bizarre costing of this policy would put the four year- budget for schools at $280 million when in fact it will cost $1.4 billion over this time. This is based on funding at the top of the basic salary scale which has moved from $48,600 to $59,537 since National was last in government. And this costing does not even take into account the hundreds of extra teachers our government announced recently for schools, over and above roll growth needs. Because under National, they simply won't be there.

"Any cheaper approach to bulk funding would push experienced teachers out of the teaching profession as schools will be forced to slash their salary bills.

"This would also hurt poorer schools the most - which again is not surprising given this is Business Roundtable policy. Poorer schools would have no choice but to employ less experienced, less qualified teachers to save money.

"Schools would also be forced to pick up a number of costs that the government currently meets - such as the literacy and numeracy professional development, textbooks and teaching resources," Trevor Mallard said.

ENDS

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