Chris Hipkins: New schools and new classrooms for up to 100, 000 kiwi kids.

Opinion 05/07/2019

By Chris Hipkins, Education Minister, Labour MP.

Too often I hear from people that they’re concerned about the state of our schools.

Over the last few years, many of our schools have become over-crowded and run-down. School rolls have rapidly expanded but investment hasn’t kept up.

Our Government is committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.

A large part of this is making sure every child can get a great education. Part of that is about making sure that Kiwi kids are learning in modern, fit-for-purpose classrooms that are warm, comfortable and dry.

While we’re already building new schools and hundreds of new classrooms across New Zealand, it’s clear we need to change the way we do things to get ahead of the game.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and I released the first ever National Education Growth Plan (NEGP) at Hingaia Peninsula School, with the Government committing to build new schools and classrooms for up to 100, 000 children by 2030.

This is significant. It’s a game-changer for how we plan for the future.

Alongside the National Growth Plan, we announced specific Growth Plans for Auckland and Tai Tokerau, which includes funding for a new primary school in Auckland, and more than 200 new classrooms and 24 additional special education satellite units across the two regions.

The NEGP is supported by our initial investment of $1.2 billion over four years in the Wellbeing Budget.

Our investment is the single biggest cash injection in school property, ever.

This record investment, combined with the National Education Growth Plan, means we can build new schools and hundreds of new classrooms where they’re needed, when they’re needed.

It’s going to mean that the Government, working closely with schools and local communities, can address increasing demand before it happens, rather than having to play catch-up when it becomes a problem.

This gives schools, parents, growing communities around the country and the construction industry certainty and means kids are being taught in new, modern and safe learning environments, not in hallways or staff rooms.

The investments announced today includes a brand new school in Milldale, North Auckland, providing classrooms for 370 students, 228 new classrooms in 42 schools across Auckland and 27 classrooms in 9 schools across Tai Tokerau, providing over 5,000 additional student places.

And Hingaia Peninsula School, where we made the announcement, is also being expanded with additional classrooms for 250 extra student places.

But this is just the beginning.

The plan outlines a significant programme of investment in schools across New Zealand over the next 10 years. I’ll be making more announcements about other new schools in regions with increasing numbers of school-aged children later this year.

Chris Hipkins is Education Minister for Labour.