Schools: $215m more for student achievement

  • Hekia Parata
Education Budget 2013

Budget 2013 reinforces the Government’s commitment to schools with an extra $215 million over four years to further lift student achievement, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.

As a result of the extra funding, the Government’s total investment in schools (excluding early childhood education) will increase to $6.3 billion in 2013/14.

The $215 million includes $16.2 million in contingency, pending further decisions later in the year.

“Currently, an average of four out of five children are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school, but the Government’s plan is about getting five out of five,” Ms Parata says. “To help us achieve that, we have set Better Public Service targets for early childhood education, and primary and secondary school achievement.

“We want well-informed parents with high expectations. We are helping boards of trustees to focus on raising achievement. This new investment includes $14.5 million to support them to make good decisions through more training and tools, and encouraging greater diversity on boards.

“We also recognise the importance of families and communities, so we are investing $2.4 million into a Connecting Communities programme for parental toolkits and community engagement.’’

The Government has a goal that by 2017, some 85 per cent of 18-year-olds will achieve NCEA Level 2 or an equivalent qualification. That target requires about 3,650 more 18-year-olds to achieve NCEA Level 2.

“Budget 2013 will see funding targeted at specific programmes to help support our most vulnerable young people to stay in school,” Ms Parata says.

“This includes $5.9 million for a new mentoring programme for our least engaged students to support them with achieving NCEA Level 2.’’

The Budget commits an additional $63.6 million over four years to the Positive Behaviour for Learning initiative, which provides programmes for schools, teachers and parents to address poor behaviour in children and young people.

“The evidence is clear that the biggest in-school effect on raising achievement is the quality of teaching,” Ms Parata says.

The Government is therefore investing $21.3 million in new operating money over four years and providing a further $16.2 million in contingency to lift the quality of teaching and to support school-wide learning.

In addition, a new $12 million programme will help to support and retain teachers in Māori immersion education.

This money is on top of $352 million the Government is already planning to spend on professional learning and development for teachers in primary and secondary education over the next four years.

“We are investing in strengthening professional practice. We will lift the quality of initial teacher education and provide professional development to support the use of the Progress and Consistency Tool.

“PACT supports teachers to make reliable and consistent judgments in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards,” Ms Parata says.

The Government’s prudent fiscal management means we can allocate $79.2 million over four years to provide a 1.9 per cent increase in school operation grants. This is above forecast inflation in 2014.

Investment is also being made in modern school learning environments.

“The way our children learn is different to the way their parents learnt. That is why we are investing nearly $200 million in connecting schools to ultra-fast broadband. By 2016, 97.7 per cent of schools will have ultra-fast broadband connections,” Ms Parata says.

With a value of $10.5 billion, school property is the Government’s second largest asset, with around $500 million being spent annually as capital investment directly within schools. Budget 2013 provides a further $134 million in a capital contingency for developing the school property network, as part of the Government’s $1 billion investment in 21st Century Schools and classrooms.

The Government has also committed $1 billion to rebuilding the education sector in greater Christchurch over the next 10 years.