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Budget 2024: Education gets $2.9b new funding for new classrooms, teachers, IT and initiatives

Author
Julia Gabel,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 May 2024, 2:04pm
 Photo / Getty Images.
Photo / Getty Images.

Budget 2024: Education gets $2.9b new funding for new classrooms, teachers, IT and initiatives

Author
Julia Gabel,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 May 2024, 2:04pm

The Government has allocated $2.9 billion to boost the country’s education sector, including bringing on more teachers, building new classrooms, pumping up cyber security and implementing some of the initiatives the coalition Government campaigned on.

Budget 2024 includes $1.48 billion to build new schools and classrooms and to upgrade exisiting ones. The Budget also includes $191 million to help early childhood education providers meet rising costs, $163m for IT infrastructure and maintenance and $53m to increase and retain teacher numbers.

The Budget also shows a number of initiatives and roles in the sector have been cut to save money.

CTU chief economist Craig Renney said Budget 2024′s education funding did not go far enough to meet the day-to-day pressures faced by New Zealanders.

“In many areas this Budget demonstrates it’s not delivering the funding to meet the cost of living pressures,” Renney said.

“Meanwhile, funding has been found for tax cuts. The Government is making a choice to properly fund tax cuts but not properly fund schools and health services.”

Funding for the schools operational grant in Budget 2024 – the main schools funding programme – increases by between 2.5 and 3 per cent, however this is less than inflation.

The new funding also covers initiatives announced prior to today’s Budget reveal, including $153 million for up to 50 charter schools, the extension of the free school lunches programme and introducing structured literacy across schools.

“The investment includes extra funding for new classrooms, more teachers, additional teacher support and early childhood education,” Education minister Erica Stanford said.

Stanford said $429 million in savings had been found, which includes cuts to sector programmes and workforce changes at the Ministry of Education.

“We want every child to have the opportunity to gain the skills and qualifications they need to achieve their potential.”

NEW FUNDING: KEY AREAS

More than $90 million has been allocated over four years to digital services in the sector, including to replace equipment and fund cyber security initiatives.

$12 million in funding over four years has been allocated to property maintenance and upgrade costs for Kōhanga Reo while $13 million has been put towards increasing funding rates and quality at play centres.

Meanwhile, the Government programme that puts free period products in all state and state-integrated schools and kura in New Zealand has been continued through to 2028 with $14.4 million in funding.

The coalition Government will also continue the Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches Programme with some changes to the way it is delivered, as Associate Education Minister David Seymour announced in the weeks prior to the Budget.

The Government has also pumped $153 million in funding over four years to establish up to 50 charter schools across the country. These will be either entirely new or converted state schools.

EDUCATION CUTS AT A GLANCE

The Ministry of Education is among the many public services told to reduce costs resulting in job cuts. The Budget shows the reduction of full-time staff at the ministry following the cuts has saved it almost $150 million over the next four years.

Meanwhile, $61.5 million in funding until 2028 for contractors and consultants, $5 million in funding for non-essential Ministry of Education staff travel and $43.9 million for professional services over the next four years has also been cut.

The Budget document also said around $23 million in annual savings had come from implementing better business processes at the ministry.

The Government has cut the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award, launched in 2019 to celebrate the achievements of second school students, which had been allocated around $1 million in funding annually for the next four years.

Funding has also been cut for Te Kawa Matakura, a qualification that focuses on mātauranga ā-iwi, because the programme had “low participation and was consistently underspent”.

Services Academy National Hui, an annual professional development event for between 50-60 schools, and the NZ Defence Force, has also had its funding cut.

The Creatives in Schools programme, which had around $3 million in funding annual until 2028, has also been ended. The Budget document said the programme was set up in response to Covid-19 and was no longer needed.

The Secretariat for Te Pae Roa Ministerial Group has been disestablished with the remaining $4 million in funding to be used to “re-scope the work to focus on the Government’s priorities” and to push a “more targetted work programme providing support” for Māori education.

The Government made a series of pre-Budget education announcement in recent weeks. This included announcements on funding changes for school lunches and plans to eventually overhaul the whole model and plans to introduce more teachers into the workforce.

Associate education minister David Seymour also announced a plan to target truancy and a new data portal to produce daily attendance figures. Cellphones have also been banned in schools and plans for new structured literacy in the classroom unveiled.

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