School lunch savings should be invested in tamariki, says education union

The education sector’s largest union asks the government to invest any savings back into schools to help lift achievement.

The new National-led government has signalled they will scrutinise the Ka Ora, Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches programme for cost-savings; education union NZEI Te Riu Roa are now urging the government to reinvest any savings into the wider education system.  

“The ministry’s briefing to incoming ministers clearly shows the funding situation is tight and that even shallow cuts are likely to impact core services, including learning support,” says union president Mark Potter.  

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“Although the Ministry says it will continue to recruit for vacant learning support roles such as speech language therapists and early intervention teachers, the Government needs to invest significantly more into learning support after decades of woeful underfunding in order to fully meet the learning needs of our tamariki.”  

Photo: AdobeStock by micromonkey

Potter also called on the new government to prioritise smaller class sizes, professional development and teacher aides “rather than recycling failed initiatives like increased testing and charter schools.”  

The fate of the Ka Ora, Ka Ako | Healthy School Lunches had previously been under debate during the election season from accusations of wastage and a treasury document which had evaluated the programme unfavourably.  

During the election period, now-Prime Minister Christopher Luxon had said “we need to ensure it’s affordable.” 

In their Budget 2023, the last Labour government has committed funding for the programme to continue until December 2024.  

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She has been covering education in New Zealand since 2022.
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