Progressing 21st Century school infrastructure
Speech to New Zealand School Trustees Association 27th Annual Conference
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you Lorraine for your kind welcome and for the opportunity to take part in your 27th Annual Conference.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge you personally. You are so hard working and a great person. Thank you for your many years of service.
I would like to acknowledge the crucial role that the NZSTA plays in supporting Boards of Trustees.
I also want to acknowledge Minister Parata for her continued dedication and hard work in the education portfolio.
As we know, strong leadership in schools is essential to ensuring our young people have the skills and knowledge they need to achieve to their full potential.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank the NZSTA for your submission to the update of the Education Act.
As Minister Parata has said, we want the updated Act to remain consistent with the principles of self-management, while reflecting greater collaboration between providers for the benefit of children and young people.
The Ministry of Education received more than 1,800 submissions, and hundreds of sector representatives attended workshops and presentations throughout the country during the consultation period.
Consultation covered the role of Boards and the need for clarity of responsibilities.
In 2013, the Act was amended to make it clear that Boards’ most important duty is to ensure students reach their highest possible educational standard. The consultation process identified a range of other roles and responsibilities that people thought were important for Boards of Trustees to have.
When the Bill is introduced and proceeds to select committee, any submission your association makes will be extremely helpful to the committee’s deliberations.
As part of the Education Update, there has been a healthy conversation about simplifying planning and reporting.
While the focus of my speech today is school property, I thought it may be useful to give you an update on where we are at with the wider education portfolio, including digital infrastructure.
This Government recognises that education is a passport for the future success of our young people. We have a clear vision for an education system that meets the educational achievement challenges for every child and young person.
We want quality teaching and learning because we know it makes the biggest difference to educational achievement.
We want to put children and young people, parents, and whanau at the centre of the education system.
We want choice for parents, flexibility for schools, and results for kids.
That’s why in this year’s education Budget, for the first time, we are spending over $11b in the education portfolio – a 2.5 per cent increase since 2015/16.
We have a big work programme ahead of us to maintain this momentum:
- An Advisory Group is currently looking at all the proposals for the funding review.
- We are strengthening the teaching profession and raising its status so that more kids grow up wanting to be a teacher.
- We have 117 Communities of Learning formed so far.
- The Education Act Update will make everything about learning.
- Social investment analysis is now an intrinsic part of decision-making in education. We are using data to better understand our kids and to better target and tailor interventions to at-risk learners. The better use of data together with targeted interventions is delivering results.
As you know, the Government is investing more than $200 million in the N4L Managed Network, which will provide quick and reliable internet complete with uncapped data, web filtering and network security services for all New Zealand schools wishing to participate.
The Government’s overall commitment to ensuring our students and teachers are digitally fluent is reflected in a total investment of $700 million towards digital infrastructure in schools, and tens of millions of dollars towards online content and professional support for teachers.
We are running a year ahead of schedule for the Managed Network rollout, with more than 2,400 schools connected.
Having access to predictable, ultra-fast broadband is critical in enabling schools to explore more innovative approaches to teaching and learning, using the internet and digital technologies.
This Government has committed around $5 billion to school property since 2008, significantly more than any previous government.
In recognition of the demographic challenges facing education, Budget 2016 more than doubles the education infrastructure spend of last year’s Budget.
We are investing $882.5 million over the next four years so we can continue building school infrastructure that supports 21st century teaching and learning practice and maintains our focus on raising achievement.
This latest investment will provide nine new schools, 480 new classrooms, two school expansions and the relocation and rebuild of three schools and a Kura.
I would add that this Government has increased funding for Special Education by 29 per cent over the last six years to $591 million, and we have doubled the spending in Early Childhood Education to over $1.79 billion.
School property reform
As Associate Minister of Education, responsible for education infrastructure, I want to talk to you today about what we have achieved in the school property portfolio and some of the areas where we will see change.
School property is one of the Government’s biggest assets with a replacement value of $23.5 billion.
When we came to Government in 2008, we inherited a school property portfolio with an average age of around 40 years, and affected by an era of leaky buildings.
I think we all agree that we need the right leadership in place in our schools so we can raise educational achievement for every New Zealander.
We also need the right education infrastructure in place so students have the learning environments they need to help them succeed.
The ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ reforms of 1989 made schools and Boards design and build their own buildings.
While the Ministry of Education owned the land and the buildings, every individual school Board contracted its own property maintenance and repairs and managed large construction projects.
The Ministry of Education only had a small Property Group that provided the funding and set policies, but had little direct engagement with schools or suppliers.
We created the Education Infrastructure Service in 2013 to ensure a comprehensive approach in addressing the demands of roll growth, weathertightness issues, earthquake repairs, the replacement of ageing buildings, and the construction of new schools.
With all this work underway we wanted Boards, principals and teachers to be free from the distraction of property issues so they could focus on student achievement.
This is why in 2013 Education Minister Hekia Parata and I announced an eight point plan to transform the way school property is delivered to better support 21st Century learning environments and improved outcomes for students.
The eight point plan gives the Ministry a defined set of priorities to improve its school property function and performance.
The plan includes investing in areas of growth in New Zealand, providing schools with better services, and improving the procurement of new school property.
I’d like to take you through this plan and update you on our significant progress. We have more to do but we are proud of the huge investment and system change that has occurred.
1. Investing in areas of growth
The Government is committed to ensuring that schools in high growth areas have enough space to enable students to learn effectively.
Budget 2016 focussed on addressing growth across New Zealand with a particular focus on Auckland, where the Government is acting now to get ahead of demand driven by the rapidly increasing population.
Investing in Auckland
More than a third of the country’s population now lives in the Auckland region, and I am often asked what we’re doing to manage current and future growth in the city.
Over the past two years Government has invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to upgrade and grow Auckland schools.
This year’s Budget adds an additional $153 million to this total. The investment includes:
- $19 million for a new primary school in Hingaia South (planned roll of 700)
- $7.3 million to expand Ormiston Primary School to cater for a roll of 720 (up from 300 currently)
- Around $100 million for four new schools which will be delivered as part of public private partnerships (PPPs), including Kumeu Primary (planned roll of 700), Scott Point Primary (planned roll of 900), Flat Bush South East Primary (planned roll of 700), and Ormiston Junior College (planned roll of 1,130)
- $18 million for 45 new roll growth classrooms and 13 replacement classrooms announced in July 2015, which now have final approval
- $9 million for 18 new roll growth classrooms over three additional schools.
In July last year, I announced that 51 Auckland schools would receive a total of 239 roll growth classrooms and 52 replacement classrooms over an 18 month-period.
Already, 122 of these classrooms have been delivered or are in construction. Another 153 are in the planning, design or preconstruction phase, and 16 have been identified for modular classroom delivery.
Since 2014, as a result of the Auckland roll growth programme, school redevelopments, new schools, and the projects given the go-ahead under Budget 2016, we will deliver more than 17,000 new student places by 2019.
As well as these major initiatives for Auckland, there is a lot going on in other parts of the country. Many other cities and towns will benefit from Budget 2016.
Other regional investment
A $19 million investment under Budget 2016 will provide Northland schools with 16 new classrooms and a new site and buildings for Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Tonga o Hokianga.
In Tauranga, Hamilton and Hawkes Bay, around $53.5 million will be invested in school property as part of Budget 2016.
And in the Wellington region, including Wairarapa, around $4 million will provide 14 new classrooms.
$1 million will enable three new classrooms to be built at Motueka High School, and Southland and Otago will see an investment of around $2 million for extra classrooms at schools in Invercargill, Wanaka and Oamaru.
Budget 2016 also includes funding for the relocation and rebuild of Wakatipu High School as part of the second Public Private Partnership.
As you can see we are investing hundreds of millions in ensuring we are getting ahead of growth.
Policies to future proof for growth
I have talked about our investment in school property, how the property portfolio is delivered and how we are supporting schools. We also need to maintain a longer-term view of school infrastructure.
Building new classrooms can often span financial years so a flexible funding model is needed to keep the momentum going, to make sure projects are completed and new ones started.
When site works are underway at schools we need to try to allow for future demand and we also need to look at land acquisition.
Following a review of how it acquires land for schools, the Ministry is now looking even further ahead with its planning and identifying earlier where it may need land.
In some areas, where land is scarce, it makes sense for the Ministry to be looking ahead 20 to 30 years into the future. The policy now enable this to happen, which will be important to ensure strategic sites are available for schools in the future.
2. Targeting support to schools that require major developments
Since 2014 over $475 million has been approved to support 26 major redevelopments throughout the country. This investment is helping schools with the most complex infrastructure issues to provide safe and effective learning environments for their students. Many of these schools have had hugely complex issues for long periods of time.
The redevelopment programme has been a significant boost to ensure that some of our oldest and leaky schools get upgraded. I am proud it is our Government who is delivering to help fix and upgrade these schools.
3. Helping schools resolve outstanding property issues faster
As part of Budget 2016 an additional $8 million of operational funding in 2016/17 was allocated for the Ministry of Education’s specialised property team.
Increasing the funding to this team has enabled them to invest in more front line staff to help deal with outstanding property issues faster and more efficiently.
4. Providing schools with access to better services including facilities management
During late 2014, the Ministry conducted a facilities management pilot programme. This was intended to determine the best approach to providing comprehensive facilities management services to New Zealand schools.
The pilot demonstrated that a consistently high standard of facilities management could be centralised to service a number of schools. Schools that choose to participate will be free from the task of managing contracts, thus achieving greater cost-effectiveness over time.
Since then, further work has been undertaken to refine the facilities maintenance costs of newly rebuilt schools which have product warranties and other services that were not part of the pilot, such as cleaning and grounds maintenance. The experience and knowledge gained from this work is now being used to determine whether a facilities management contract for schools should be put to the market and also to inform the funding review.
We have a huge number of projects either on the go, or planned, over the next few years. With the Ministry’s new delivery model introduced following our eight point plan, I am confident we can meet our commitments.
An important role for the Ministry is to support schools to ensure all their students have safe, comfortable and healthy environments to learn in. As you know, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 introduced a new approach to workplace health and safety.
The Ministry has been actively working with school Boards, construction contractors and other suppliers to ensure they are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under the revised Act. As you know, school Boards have been given comprehensive guidance on how to meet the requirements of the Act.
5. Offering support for major property works
Under the plan, the Ministry of Education has implemented an asset management approach to ensure the best infrastructure investment decisions are made, to support better educational outcomes and to protect the long-term viability of the school estate.
6. Better procurement to enable faster delivery of national programmes
A key benefit of having a centralised education infrastructure service is the ability to gain procurement efficiencies through the scale of national programmes and supplier negotiations.
We are also looking at how we can help schools procure services. We now have 117 Communities of Learning (CoL) across the country, representing just over 1,000 schools and 320,000 students.
As CoL develop and mature we need to be ready to support them as they look to extend their collaboration beyond student achievement, and look to other things that they could share, purchase or manage themselves.
The Ministry is looking at how bundled packages of services could be developed so schools have a menu of external providers in areas such as office administration, ICT, property and social services.
7. Providing schools with incentives to collaborate and develop innovative approaches to property developments
More schools are joining communities of learning. As part of this, schools will consider how best to provide facilities that can be shared between school communities.
Flexible spaces encourage collaboration and this approach is expanded where possible. Examples of this include large-scale projects like collocating schools on one site, through to smaller projects such as designing facilities so they are multipurpose and can also be used by other schools and the local community.
8. Providing greater transparency about the costs and condition of school property
The Ministry is now able to manage large and complex property projects on behalf of Boards. Of course, Boards still get a say in the planning and design phases of their projects, but the Ministry takes on the responsibility of managing the complex works so schools can focus on what they do best – teaching and learning.
I’m pleased to report that this plan has delivered real benefits for schools.
The Ministry is also realising greater efficiencies due to the size of the overall portfolio. One example of this is the national contract for modular buildings which began operating last year. Another example is the work the Ministry has done to streamline and accelerate the process of upgrading existing teaching spaces, by developing reference designs for the upgrade of standard blocks.
On top of all of the significant property reform we have undertaken, the Government has invested significantly to rebuild our schools in Christchurch.
As a result of the devastating earthquake in February 2011, we invested $1.137 billion towards the Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme, ensuring the education infrastructure system is in line with the changing needs of Christchurch and other areas now and well into the future.
Budget 2016 provides $127.8 million of capital funding and $40.7 million of operating funding over the next four years for the Christchurch schools rebuild programme.
To date, seven schools have been completed, 10 are in construction, 21 are in design, and nine are in the planning stage. The programme is on track to rebuild these schools.
Budget 2016 also provides $6 million of additional spending on seismic strengthening for state-integrated schools in Christchurch. This is about ensuring that schools damaged by the earthquakes can be strengthened for the future.
Christchurch students will be learning in modern, flexible and digitally connected classrooms, and teachers will be using the most modern technology.
Since we have been in Government, we have invested more than any other government to ensure we deliver more modern learning environments that are safe, connected, fit for purpose and inspiring to both teachers and students.
We want schools to be able to focus on education. We want young people to be able to learn in new and exciting ways and to develop the skills they need to reach their full potential.
Including what we are forecasting to spend in 2016/17 through this year’s Budget, we will have invested almost $5 billion in school property since we came to government.
Budget 2016 invested $882.5 million over the next four years in school property. This is made up of $727.3 million capital and $155.2 operating funding.
This is more than double the infrastructure spend of last year’s Budget, and is the most ever invested in school property by any New Zealand government.
Through the eight point plan, we have upgraded and fixed more schools than ever. We have also embarked on an ambitious plan to future-proof towns and cities across New Zealand for growth. What lies ahead of us is the challenge to invest and innovate in high-growth areas to ensure New Zealand school infrastructure is world class.
We also need to consider further system change, whether that is continuing to provide better property and infrastructure services for schools and Communities of Learning, or better integrating and enabling greater flexibility in ICT, school transport and school property.
Thank you so much for what you do. We are very grateful for the huge amount of time that Boards of Trustees invest in improving and managing school infrastructure.
With continued investment and further system change, I am confident that we can provide much better learning environments that are connected to the 21st Century, and that we can build a stronger partnership with you to deliver those.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.