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Education Budget 2018: Fixing the damage of the past

Education Budget 2018: Fixing the damage of the past, building the foundations for the future

11 May 2018

NZEI Te Riu Roa has commissioned Infometrics to analyse the cost of repairing almost a decade of funding neglect in early childhood and primary education.

NZEI has highlighted a number of key areas needing an immediate funding boost to support every child to reach their educational potential and ensure that our schools and centres have a viable teaching workforce into the future.

National Secretary Paul Goulter said it was important to repair the foundations of our education system so we can build for the future.

"There is so much more that needs to be done in education, but these improvements will make the biggest difference in quality learning for our children and get us in a strong position to work on future needs," he said.

Yesterday, the Council of Trade Unions revealed that 92% of New Zealanders believe public services need more funding and an overwhelming majority of 65% back more taxes to pay for it. A recent NZEI public poll also demonstrated public support for increased spending on education, with 91% supporting more Government spending on education.

"If the Government needs to increase taxes or loosen the terms of their self-imposed Budget Responsibility Rules, then we believe they have the public mandate to do so. The foundations of education have been damaged by a decade of neglect and this Government needs to find the resources to fix them," said Mr Goulter.

Infometrics has analysed the numbers and confirmed the costs for the following areas:

Early Childhood Education

Qualified teachers, sustainable funding and smaller group sizes are internationally recognised markers of quality in ECE. The National Government cut funding for centres that had more than 80% of their staff qualified and has effectively frozen per-child operational funding since 2009.

Qualified teachers

Restoring full funding for services with 100% qualified teachers, would cost an additional $61m in Budget 2018*.

Restoring the funding
Restoring ECE funding to 2010 rates would cost an additional $218m in Budget 2018*.

Improving the ratio
To improve the ratio of teachers to babies and under twos from 1:5 down to 1:3 would cost an additional $289m in Budget 2018*.

A total increase of $600m would take ECE spending from $1,845m to $2,445m* (note this includes any multiplier effects of these policies).

Primary Education
Inclusive education

To ensure children with additional learning needs can participate equitably in learning, better resourcing for learning support and in-school support is critical. The National Government instituted a freeze (staffing cap) on learning support specialists in 2008 and capped the high-needs Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding at 1% of all children.

However, about 3% of children have high and complex learning needs, and a recent studyby NZEI found that schools have on average 15% of their roll on a special needs register. An increase in ORS to include an extra 2% of children would cost $444m in Budget 2018*.
We also want to see formalisation and resourcing of the SENCO (Special Education Needs Co-Ordinator) role in every school. This has not been costed as the parameters of such a move have not been set.

Teachers - building the foundations for the future workforce

National’s legacy includes a teacher shortage and a crisis in attracting people into the teaching profession; the number of enrolments in initial teacher education dropped markedly in the past five years, while the student population is projected to grow significantly.

To address this, NZEI is advocating for more time to teach and lead through more staffing in schools and better pay, alongside greater resourcing for students with complex needs as discussed above.

Specifically, NZEI is calling for:

• A 16% pay increase for teachers and principals over the next two years ($266m and $30m per year at 16%)
• Smaller class sizes for years 4-8 (up to $110m in 2018 Budget)

• Increased professional leadership time ($73m)

• Minimum of 2 fulltime-equivalent staff in each school (approximately $7m - this costing has not been checked by Infometrics). This is a health and safety issue.

• Principals of the very smallest schools (U1 and U2) to be paid at U3 step because they still have responsibility for leading the school, as well as teaching ($7m - this costing has not been checked by Infometrics)
School operations funding

Operations funding needs to increase to meet growing needs and costs, but just to ensure real per-student funding maintains the same average annual increase as the Labour Cost Index-Education (which has averaged 2.5%pa over the past 10 years), per student operational funding would need to increase by 4%pa to $1792m in 2022 ($65m in Budget 2018).

A total increase in primary education funding of $1,002m would increase overall spending from $3,210m to $4,212m, (note this excludes any multiplier effects of these policies).

Total Cost

We have a government with the ambition to set a 30-year vision for an education system that will respond to the potential of every learner.

"Investing in our education system means investing in people. At the heart of every school and early childhood service is people - the teachers and support staff who are responsible for the teaching and learning of our children.
Ensuring we attract and keep the best people in education should be the highest priority for government," said Mr Goulter.

"It will take time and money to rebuild our system so we have well-resourced schools and services, a quality teaching profession that is sustainable and well supported, and working and learning conditions that support success for every learner."

The annual cost of the above initiatives, as assessed by Infometrics, is $600m for ECE and $1,002m for primary schools.
"These initiatives will make significant strides towards that goal. The solutions are not cheap, but prioritising a quality education for every child will mean a better future for all of us," said Mr Goulter.

Pay equity and funding a living wage for support staff is not included in these costings, and would require additional funds.
ENDS

*These figures come from an Infometrics report commissioned in 2017. Infometrics advises that there is no substantive cost change since then.

The remaining information is drawn from Infometric's Assessing school operational funding trends in 2018 and Review of priority education spending proposals in 2018

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