Parata's office gets new faces

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2012

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Education Minister Hekia Parata has a new team of advisers as pressure grows over class sizes.

Ms Parata is at the centre of a political storm after announcing changes to increase classroom numbers and use the $43million in savings to lift teacher performance.

This week a new team of staff started work in Ms Parata's office. Three private secretaries have all left for new jobs and her ministerial adviser has gone to work for Prime Minister John Key.

However, Ms Parata's office rejected suggestions the departures were connected to the class sizes row.

One administration worker, seconded from the Education Ministry, had taken up a new job in Cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee's office. "That was a personal choice," a spokeswoman said. One was promoted in the ministry "a little while ago." And the third private secretary had an accident.

"She hasn't got rid of anyone as such, it's just they've gone on to better jobs ... They were all well in motion before the Budget began."

However, two sources contradicted this, with one saying that losing staff within six months of taking office was "not a coincidence".

Facing a rebellion by teachers and parents, Ms Parata partly backed down last week after it emerged some schools faced losing up to seven staff. She capped the number of teachers to go under the new funding ratio at two. Fairfax NZ

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- The Southland Times

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