“The more than 4,000 bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education don’t even know how many teaching days have been lost due to strikes. Obviously student attendance is not a priority for this government,” says ACT’s Education spokesperson Chris Baillie.

"New Zealand will never tackle the productivity challenges it faces if kids aren’t in school. I asked Education Minister Jan Tinetti in Parliament how many teaching days had been lost to industrial action in term 1 of 2023, and how many were expected to be lost in term 2. Despite having hours to think of an answer and 4,000 bureaucrats at her disposal, the Minister said she didn’t know.

“Despite the Ministry of Education exploding in size – FTEs are up 55.3 per cent since 2017 – it still doesn’t even know how many days of school kids are missing. It’s rewarded for its failures by being given more money and staff. How is it that the education ministry can hire so many extra people and achieve such appalling outcomes?

“Instead of measuring basic data, the Ministry is focussed on pushing nonsense like ‘teaching maths for social justice’. It needs to get back to basics and let schools teach.

“ACT would reduce the bureaucracy back to its 2017 size and give the money to teachers instead through the $250 million Teachers Excellence Reward Fund. After all, they’re the ones making a difference in Kiwi kid’s educations, not back office bureaucrats.

“This would also prevent the industrial action from occurring that has become so regular under Labour.

“With ACT’s fully costed tax plan and Teachers Excellence Reward Fund, the average teacher on $70k gets an extra $7,000 each year. Our tax cuts mean they keep an extra $2,300, while our Reward Fund averages out to $5,000 extra per teacher.

“Almost every aspect of someone's adult life will be defined by the education they receive as a child. If we want better social outcomes for New Zealand, we need kids in classrooms."

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