Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Kerre Woodham: Who do you believe about the Ministry of Education?

Where to start from this morning's program?!

The Mike Hosking Breakfast was the gift that kept on giving, what with Stuart Nash effectively cutting any ties that remained with an existing Labour Party you would have to say, to say ‘I was all for getting tough on the gangs, but nobody would support me.’

And then we had Jan Tinetti responding to National’s press conference yesterday saying so many projects have been promised, and yet we've looked, and they simply can't be delivered. There's not a snowballs chance in hell, we can afford them because the cost overruns are so extreme.

And then further to the Ministry of Education and further around the education portfolio, there's a story from BusinessDesk this morning showing that the Ministry of Education's consulting bills surged by 450% since 2019. 450% in five years (really four years). They went to the top-tier consultancy firms, ones like Beca that picked up $15 million over 5 years, PwC, $13 million, KPMG $7.7 million.

The surge in spending came after the Labour government directed the Ministry of Education to get cracking on a new school property capital program. Things like new classrooms, upgrading school buildings, school facilities, that sort of thing. But yesterday the coalition government announced that some of these projects are in doubt after Erica Stanford, the current Minister of Education, said that promises had been made to schools that simply could not be delivered. Work is paused on 20 projects, up to 350 projects in various stages ranging from design, basically just drawings on a board through to pre-construction could now be scrapped.

The current government is blaming the former government. Erica Stanford says it's not unusual to have isolated examples of projects that experience delivery challenges, and there have been cost overruns —that's fine— but this is of an unprecedented scale. She says Labour have left a system of systemic and embedded challenges that cannot continue. She says there is evidence that Chris Hipkins, as previous Minister of Education, knew there was too little funding for what had been promised but let schools continue, basically designing their dream projects without telling them that there simply wasn't the money for it. They had to operate within a budget. Labour's education spokesperson and former education Minister Jan Tinetti says no, the money is there.

“But we're not up to our ears in debt and I'm very proud of our fiscal record and I will push back on that. What I am saying is that National are manufacturing, a crisis here that doesn't exist.”

So, are they?

I think we agreed that there has been underfunding on school buildings and under the Key government. Labour said, right, we'll make this good. We'll build all the new classrooms that anyone could ever possibly hope for in new schools, and we'll do it right now. We'll give them all of the everything.

But the money has to be there, doesn't it? Chris Hipkins says well yes, National’s giving tax cuts to the rich instead of putting that money into schools and school buildings, instead of delivering on the promises made by Labour, National says we simply cannot deliver on those. The cost overruns are extraordinary.

So what, then, are we paying the consultants for? If you're spending $15 million with one consultancy company, wouldn't you want them to come up with accurate costings? So, you had an idea of where you were going? And what could be done with that money? I mean, I guess when it comes to building projects. You would understand, perhaps the Ministry of Education outsourcing, but a University of Auckland Professor Nicolas Lewis has researched government spending on consultants. And not only is the ministry looking for consultants when it comes to building projects, which I could give them a pass on, although you would have to wonder at the scale of the spending. But they also rely extensively on consultants for policy development. Effectively, there is no in-house capability. They tend to contract out for all the major curriculum development services.

According to Professor Lewis, about ten small education consultancy firms relied largely, if not entirely, on ministry contracts for their income.

So they're consulting up for buildings, they're consulting out for what you would imagine a ministry exists for, which is creating and developing a curriculum for schools. And the other thing that really grinds my gears is when you look at that, so they're contracting out for curriculum, which is what you'd imagine the ministry would do, so there'd be fewer staff at the Ministry of Education wouldn't there? Because if they're not doing what you would imagine they exist to do, there wouldn't be many staff. The number of teachers employed by state schools rose by just over 5 per cent from 2017 to 2022. By the same period, the number of full-time staff employed at the Ministry of Education ballooned by 55 per cent.

So not only are they contracting out everything, they're employing more staff. Like loads more stuff. 1700 more staff than was employed in 2016. What are they doing? Coming up with new ways to spend money, new inventive ways to spend money. How on earth can you justify farming out your curriculum? While taking on 55% more staff?

So when you get a he said/she said, as we have with the previous government and this government, with Christopher Luxon and Erica Stanford saying they were out of control with the spending, it was complete and utter cavalier disregard for budgets and for costings and for writing up contracts that meant people had to deliver on the price that was offered.

So they say that Labour was irresponsible with money. Jan Tinetti says no, we're not. No, I stand by our fiscal record. And then you see just one ministry has a consulting bill that is surged by 450%. And you have a ministry that farms out the very work it exists to do while at the same time taking on more than 50% more staff, who do you believe?

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

Ms Tinetti has zero credibility - always did, always will.

Kay O'Lacey said...

Yet another complete shambles left behind by Labour. And the lies and gaslighting continue. I personally find it heartbreaking that little kiddies just starting school when Ardern took over have become the ram raiders and crooks of today, while in the intervening period ideologues within the Ministry of Education pursued their own agendas seemingly of no practical relevance, including the shutting of charter schools as number one priority. One would think that most staff there might have joined such ministry because they actually cared about education. Clearly and sadly not!

Gaynor said...

I see the Ministry of Social Engineering aka MoE as the biggest tax funded criminal organization in our society.

This article on grossly inflated self indulgent and reckless spending on themselves proves it.

If this big spend-up had resulted in improved academic standards and healthier and confident children it could have been justified . But it has done the opposite with standards plummeting this century combined with a jump in mental illness.

The MoSE's entrenched social engineering ideology has resulted in dependent, ignorant, undisciplined , indoctrinated and unemployable individuals.

Who can bell the cat? Well, nobody I know of. The criminality is way out of hand.

Anonymous said...

The MoE has spent a lot of money on major curriculum development services.
Contracted out to the company of Rose Hipkins. Chris's mother.

Theres a theme of this in the Labour party.

Erica said...

To grasp the depth of depravity of our Min.of Ed, reading Amy 'Brooke's article "cleaning out the Augean Stables' posted on Waikanae Watch Sunday 25th Feb.would be worthwhile.

The ministry do have all the hallmarks of a Marxist bloated bureaucracy. When are people going to face the fact Marxism is and always has been a failure.