Budget 2018 disappointing for education

The release of the Labour Government’s first budget last week has disappointed many after the education sector didn’t receive the cash injection it had hoped for.

Budget 2018 allocated nearly $2.billion to the struggling school system, which will go towards new teachers, new classrooms and a big boost to learning support.

There is $394 million set aside to fund new schools and around 200 new classrooms to cater for population growth, which is expected to reach more than 17,000 additional students by 2020.

And $370m has been allocated to fund 1500 new teacher positions by 2021, which is $70m more than National funded.

However Mike Williams, Pakuranga College principal and president of the Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand, says he is a little disappointed with the budget’s allocation to the education sector.

“The extra classrooms and teachers are nothing more than roll growth.  The 1.6 per cent increase to the [Operational Funding Grant] is just in line with inflation and not moving forward,” he says.

Williamson says the extra money for learning support is in decile four schools and there is very little in it for schools in general

“At best we are not moving backwards,” he says.

“The big issue however that still remains unresolved is teacher supply and workload which may be addressed in future collective contract negotiations,” Williams says.

The health sector was one of the greatest winners in Budget 2018 and will receive a $3.2b injection over four years to fund DHBs, elective surgeries and hospital upgrades and rebuilds.

Free GP visits have been extended to 13-year-olds and cheaper doctor visits for more than 500,000 people.

Community midwives also received funding.

Housing was also given priority with a total of $3.8b allocated to building 6400 more state houses over the next four years and $170m was allocated for emergency housing.

The New Zealand Police also received substantial funding of $300m for 920 more police officers and 240 support staff.

“We are looking forward to having the budget to enable additional police staff to be recruited to help keep our community safe,” says Counties Manukau Police inspector Wendy Spiller.

“Obviously, we are very keen to have members of our local community join NZ Police so police reflect the community that they serve.”

Police Association vice-president Craig Tickelpenny says the association is pleased to hear the aim is to reach a police-to-population ratio of 1:470 by 2020.

“We have always made it very clear to the [Police] minister that staffing issues top the list of concerns our members have, and we are pleased our voice has been heard.”

  •  To find out more about the Budget click here.