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50,000 unfunded school places in growth plan

The Government’s announcement today there is going to be 61 new schools by 2030 is a great goal, but is hollow without potentially billions of additional funding and large changes to school infrastructure delivery, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“In a place like Auckland, this announcement more than a year late. The high level plan is pretty similar to work done by the previous Government. Education Minister Chris Hipkins admitted at Select Committee the Government has only secured funding for 50 per cent of the cash required to fund the education infrastructure needed for the next 10 years.

“The Cabinet paper indicates the $1.2 billion will only fund 24,000 of the additional 100,000 student places needed in the next 10 years. National had previously provided for some places prior to leaving Government. There are 54,000 unfunded student places, 35,000 in Auckland and 18,500 nationally.

“The Government did not provide enough funding for what was needed for growth, which is surprising given the huge capital allowance it has now of which the previous National Government did not. National massively increased school property funding and cleaned up a number of legacy issues in the portfolio as well as signalling these growth plans.

“We do welcome some of the announcements made today for Auckland given we’ve got more than 200 schools over capacity, but the planning was in train 18 months ago and the Government has been slow off the mark.

“But with funding certainty only confirmed for one school out of 61, there’s still a long way to go. I have major concerns about the Ministry of Education’s capacity to deliver. In the last year there has been a huge underspend and the Minister has admitted major issues in the school construction market.

“The Government’s decision to scrap Public-Private Partnerships is a missed opportunity and not progressing plans to change the delivery of school infrastructure will mean real challenges for delivery.

“The Ministry is signalling many more enrolment schemes which could cause issues for some communities. In Auckland alone they are signalling 103 enrolment schemes in some of the 130 schools that do not currently have schemes.

“National will scrutinise the regional plans and ask the hard questions about providing certainty of funding and the timeline to deliver these classrooms and schools.”

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