Investing in education is never enough

Bill English 

Making sure our children get a good education is the most important thing that we can do to help them succeed in a modern, global economy.

A key part of that is ensuring schools can accommodate our growing population and that our children have the opportunity to learn in environments that facilitate learning.

Since 2008, we have committed around $5 billion to school infrastructure- more than any previous government.

We are investing in new schools, major redevelopments and new classrooms. Last week, I saw this ongoing programme first-hand when I joined Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye to announce that a new classroom block will be built at Long Bay Primary School in Auckland.

It is a $3.8 million project that includes six teaching spaces in a two-storey block and it is another example of the government dealing with growth in Auckland.

Auckland is our fastest-growing city, and home to more than a third of the country’s population. The government is determined to ensure that children there get the best possible chance to develop their talents.

Haeata Community School

I was also in Christchurch last week with Education Minister Hekia Parata for the opening of Haeata Community Campus. Haeata is a year one to 13 school. It has more than 950 students, aged from five through to 18.

It brings together a number of schools which had to close in Christchurch East following the earthquake. Its opening is a critical and positive milestone in the recovery of that part of the city.

This is part of more than a billion dollars of spending that we set aside for rebuilding schools in Christchurch. It will be the 10th new school to open following the 2011 earthquake.

Improvement Programme

While it does not attract attention in day-to-day political reporting, we do have a very large programme of improvement in education, which includes a significant, nation-wide upgrade of education infrastructure.

And we are achieving some excellent results.

Children are now beginning their education earlier.

They are staying longer, and leaving better qualified with 83.3% of 18-year-olds achieving NCEA Level 2.

This National-led government has more than doubled our investment in early childhood education; we introduced a $359 million policy to keep the best teachers in classrooms and share leadership and expertise.

We are also investing $700 million into improving the digital infrastructure of schools to ensure they have access to faster and unlimited broadband.

We want to make sure that our education system works for every New Zealand child and young person, and that is why we are investing in it week after week, region after region.

Bill English is Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Photo: Bill English with students of Newlands College in Wellington

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