Disastrous - that's the blunt assessment by two Wanganui principals of the Government's school staffing formula announced in the Budget.
Wanganui Intermediate School principal Charles Oliver and Rutherford Junior High principal Joy Hanna were critical of the staffing formula changes announced for intermediate and middle schools.
To increase investment in raising student achievement, the Government said it would make small changes to current school funding ratios.
But the proposed changes were an absolute nonsense, both principals said.
At Wanganui Intermediate, the changes would mean the loss of five teaching positions and the complete removal of all specialist teaching, Mr Oliver said.
"If this goes ahead, we will be unable to staff our programmes in technology [cooking, metalwork, robotics], art, science or music."
He said it was those programmes that made intermediate schools special and different.
Technology programmes have often provided students with the encouragement and enjoyment that kindle an interest in learning and lifelong interests, he said.
Parents and teachers were not prepared to accept these changes, Mr Oliver said.
He questioned who gave the Government its advice.
He suggested it was unlikely to be anyone connected with education.
Yesterday afternoon Education Minister Hekia Parata clarified that no school would lose more than two full-time teachers (FTTE.)
"As we've previously said, about 90 per cent of schools will either gain, or have a net loss of less than one FTTE as a result of the combined effect of the ratio changes and projected roll growth," she said.
Schools will be given a guarantee that their staffing entitlement will not be reduced by more than two FTTEs over the next three years as a result of the policy changes, Ms Parata said. It was also not the intention of the policy to undermine the specialist technology provision at Levels 7 and 8, she said.
Any additional cost from these changes will be met from a contingency set aside by the Ministry of Education to manage the transition to the new ratios.
The annual conference of the New Zealand Association for Intermediate and Middle Schooling starts today in Auckland. Ms Parata is opening the conference at the Waipuna Lodge.
Mr Oliver said the Budget was on everyone's mind and would assuredly to be the main topic of discussion.