Budget 2015: Education - what's in it for schools? video

Parliament TV

Finance Minister Bill English delivers the 2015 Budget, announcing changes to KiwiSaver, benefits and border security.

The Government has answered schools' cries for more cash at their disposal and extra help for special needs children.

The Budget will inject $62.9 million over four years into special education that will provide an extra 500 students with Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) support, which brings the total number of special needs children being supported to 9000.

It pays for specialists such as speech-language therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and provides additional teacher and teacher's aide time.

"This is the first phase of our commitment to provide extra teacher's aide support for an extra 4000 students," ...
Bruce Mercer

"This is the first phase of our commitment to provide extra teacher's aide support for an extra 4000 students," Education Minister Hekia Parata said.

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The Budget also includes new spending for extra in-class teacher's aide support, which is designed to help those students with special needs that don't meet the requirements for ORS funding, for example, children with dyslexia, autism, ADHD and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. 

"This is the first phase of our commitment to provide extra teacher's aide support for an extra 4000 students," Education Minister Hekia Parata said.

"Eventually we aim to provide an additional 800,000 teacher's aide hours a year."

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The splash on special needs comes on the back of an underspend of more than $32m of special needs funding in the last two years, which enraged schools and parents.

A delay between announcing special education programmes and implementing them - a "usual practice" by the Ministry of Education - was responsible for the underspend.

READ MORE: Special needs underspend punishes schools

Principals repeatedly calling for more in their operations funding to meet the true cost of education will welcome an increase, albeit a small one at only 1 per cent at a cost of $42.3m to the Government.

"This new funding, along with new funding for roll growth, will bring the total amount spent on school operational grants to $1.32 billion during 2015/16," Parata said.

But it's not only state schools getting a helping hand - controversial charter schools will continue to grow with funding being put aside to establish two new charter schools, which are expected to open in either 2016 or 2017.

There are already nine charter schools operating, most in Auckland and Northland. But with one of the schools, Whangaruru, on the verge of closure, the model has been heavily criticised.

READ MORE: Minister gives Whangaruru final warning

Roll numbers at the schools are yet to hit targets and Parata is expected to make a decision on the closure of Whangaruru soon after poor teaching practice, student attendance and management were highlighted in an Education Review Office report.

The 2015 Budget investment of $686.7m will take total spending on early childhood, primary and secondary education in the coming year to $10.8 billion.

A large chunk of that - $244m - was announced pre-budget to pay for the building of seven new schools and kura kaupapa, expanding four existing schools and building an additional 241 classrooms at existing schools.

Other investment includes $74.9m for early childhood education to ensure more children are attending for longer hours.

There is also an additional $53.3m being spent to continue to fix the botched payroll system, Novopay.

 - Stuff

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