“The revelation that a Ministry of Education contractor was paid $500,000 without having any contact with students is yet another reason to downsize our education bureaucracy and free up resources to pay teachers more”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.

“It is also deeply ironic that the state education monopoly is behaving in such a disgraceful way given Labour’s insistence that private sector involvement in charter schools was immoral.

Uenuku Fairhall was struck off as a registered teacher for sleeping naked with a student but was awarded contracts by the Ministry for two years after officials became aware he was being investigated.

“The Ministry of Education has said Fairhall had ‘not engaged with any children or young person as part of [his] contract work’.

“How can a contractor work on changes to the Māori curriculum without ever testing it with students? That a contractor can be paid $500,000 without interacting with any student shows just how out of control the education bureaucracy is.

“Over the past 12 months, the Ministry has increased the number of back office bureaucrats by 300 and paid every employee $2000 more on average. The number of Ministry of Education staff increased from 2,632 to 2,904 between 2017 and 2018. The average salary rose from $82,612 to $84,900.

“ACT would reduce the number of back office bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education by 50 per cent, saving $240 million a year, and putting this money back into frontline education.

“Labour argued against charter schools on the basis that private sector involvement in education was immoral, but this is how the state education monopoly behaves on Labour’s watch. It is completely disgraceful.”