Hipkins must explain school funding hypocrisy

The Education Minister needs to front up and explain his extraordinary decision to approve $11.7 million of taxpayers’ money for the privately-owned Taranaki Green School, National’s Education spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“The Minister has very serious questions to answer about why this exclusive private school has been granted such an extraordinary amount of money.”

The large sum involved means the Education Minister will have been required to sign it off, according to Provincial Growth Fund criteria. Labour's policy is that private schools can only access small operational subsidies, out of a capped fund, of between $1000 and $2000 per student, which was also National's policy in Government.

Taranaki Green School reportedly has a roll of just 50 students and fees of about $20,000 per year, so the funding works out to be about $200,000 per student.

“That is eye-wateringly generous,” Ms Willis says.

“What is going on here? Has Labour’s policy now changed? Will other private schools now be able to get similar grants for new buildings?

“This hypocritical deal flies in the face of rules for private school funding at a time when many schools across the country are crying out for Government help to fund much-needed construction, including nearby New Plymouth Boys High and Girls High. 

“National welcomes the choice and innovation private schools can bring to our education system, but we have a problem with this hypocritical and unfair deal.

“Labour also opposes public-private partnerships for schools, and this is a private school being built by a private company, so why is it OK for a green school but not others?

“Then there’s the Greens’ policy, which opposes public funding for private schools, which makes James Shaw’s cheerleading for this project look especially bizarre.

“Chris Hipkins needs to tell the public how this dirty little deal was approved at the expense of other education priorities.”