More funds in Bud­get for spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion

Weekend Herald - - News -

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern is ex­pected to an­nounce ma­jor Bud­get fund­ing to­mor­row to boost spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion.

And the Green Party is ex­pected to an­nounce an el­e­ment of ex­tra fund­ing for the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion.

Be­fore the elec­tion, Labour promised an ex­tra $6 bil­lion in ed­u­ca­tion over the next four years.

Ardern is go­ing to a sum­mit in Auck­land, part of a re­view of the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

Spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion, now termed “learn­ing sup­port”, cov­ers stu­dents with se­vere dis­abil­i­ties as well as those in need of ser­vices such as speech ther­a­pists and be­havioural psy­chol­o­gists.

Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Prin­ci­pals’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ju­dith Nel said she hoped any an­nounce­ment would ad­dress the need for more train­ing and well as im­me­di­ate re­sources.

“We need far more professionals and re­source to go into peo­ple at the coal­face,” she said.

The in­crease was not part of the 100-days plan al­ready ac­counted for in the Gov­ern­ment’s books so it will have to come out of the dis­cre­tionary op­er­at­ing al­lowance, sig­nalled in De­cem­ber to be about $2.6b for this Bud­get, al­though that is likely to be re­vised up­wards on Bud­get day.

But the al­lowances also have to fund public sec­tor wage in­creases.

The ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, with an an­nual $3.7b wage bill, will be com­pet­ing for that spare dol­lar.

In an in­ter­view with the Week­end Her­ald, Ardern said her first Bud­get as Prime Min­is­ter had been no dif­fer­ent to any other in terms of spend­ing.

“As with ev­ery other Bud­get, the am­bi­tion out­strips the avail­able re­sources by quite some mar­gin.”

She re­peated Labour’s re­cur­ring theme of Na­tional hav­ing “un­der­in­vested”. “But the pri­mary fo­cus isn’t the de­bate over what hap­pened. It is just get­ting on with it. That’s what I know vot­ers need to see from us. ”

Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter and Green MP Eu­ge­nie Sage will make her an­nounce­ment at a na­tive bush re­serve in Welling­ton. A sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in DoC fund­ing was ne­go­ti­ated by the Greens in their con­fi­dence and sup­ply agree­ment with Labour.

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