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Bigger class sizes on the way under National

Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Hekia Parata has proposed that schools should have the ‘flexibility’ to spend money that currently goes towards teaching salaries on other expenses. That can only result in bigger class sizes, a reduction in the number of courses on offer, or both.

“I’m not surprised that Hekia Parata has refused to rule out bigger class sizes. In Western Australia, where she has drawn inspiration for her new model from, at least the Minister for Education was honest enough to admit class sizes going up was a likely consequence of bulk funding.

“It’s an indictment on the National Party that in the same breath they propose to remove the ring-fencing of teacher salaries they are planning to ring-fence school maintenance funding to ‘protect the Crown’s investment in school infrastructure’. They clearly view school buildings as a more important investment than the teachers who work in them.

“There is no doubt the school funding system can be improved. But turning back the clock to the failed bulk funding approach of the 1990s isn’t the way to go,” Chris Hipkins said.