Ministry of Education announces sweeping changes

Over 500 jobs will be cut at the Ministry of Education, and PLD priority changes have recently been announced.

Around 12 percent of jobs at the Ministry of Education will be cut, and priorities for regionally allocated professional learning and development (RAPLD) have changed.  

These changes at the Ministry of Education were announced at the end of Term 1 in early April, and have caused widespread concern among educators.  

Read the latest print edition of School News HERE 

Jobs lost at the Ministry of Education include 216 roles from the operations and integration group, 197 from the curriculum centre, 91 from regional offices, 39 from the property group and 22 policy positions.  

Regional roles on the chopping block include disability, migrant and language and speech therapy workers.  

Eight nutrition experts and at least six advisors for Ka Ora Ka Ako are also set to be dismissed.  

Of the 565 roles set to go at the Ministry of Education, 225 are currently vacant. 

Over 500 jobs are set to be slashed from the Ministry of Education, many from their offices in Wellington. Image by Pat Ho on Unsplash.

The Ministry of Education has stated that “Our proposed changes have been designed to avoid impacts on direct services to children, teachers and principals/leaders.”  

NZEI Te Riu Roa disagrees, however, stating that the cuts will affect day-to-day operations by undermining already limited support for staff and students.  

“The scale of these cuts are devastating,” said President Mark Potter.  

“Services that support schools and students within the Ministry are being slashed. Cuts to staff ensuring best practice approaches to support children by speech language therapists, early intervention teachers and other specialist staff, cuts to school lunch programme staff, cuts to the experts designing the delivery of services for Māori and Pasifika students and those developing our world-leading curriculum, cuts in direct support and expert advice for schools around the day-to-day management of schools and early childhood education services; take your pick, these cuts will all impact ultimately on teaching and learning in the classroom.”  

The union has also stated that the cuts will disproportionately impact Pacfic people by reducing support to an already underserved portion of the education sector. 

Potter added that the cuts “will potentially have huge impacts on education and students for years to come.” 

PPTA Te Wehengarua president Chris Abercrombie agreed, stating in a press release that “These cuts will have serious ramifications – maybe not immediately but increasingly over the next couple of years.” 

Abercrombie stated it was not the first time that cuts at the Ministry had created “a gaping hole in essential work and support for schools and teachers further down the track.” 

Cuts to the NCEA change and curriculum programme were especially concerning, said Abercrombie, as “these programmes are at the heart of teaching and learning and young people’s qualifications and opportunities.  

“The work will still need to be done and it will most likely mean school leaders and teachers will pick up the shortfall, creating further pressure on an already straining system.”  

Meanwhile Education Minister Erica Stanford said that short-term contractors will be used to help write changes to the education programme.  

The Public Service Association’ (PSA) assistant secretary Fleur Fitzsimons said the move toward contractor and consultant spending was “hypocritical and may end up costing more in the long run… they are decimating the ministry losing important capability in critical areas like the review of the curriculum.”  

Stanford said that roles would be added to the curriculum team following the cuts, including more staff in regions which would get resources on the front line.  

Contractors will be used to help with curriculum changes, said Education Minister Erica Stanford. Image by Van Tay Media on Unsplash.

Stanford characterised the changes at the Ministry as “redirecting funds” to the frontline, pointing to the announcement of $2.9 million to combat period poverty as an example of the Ministry’s commitment to funding frontline services.  

Meanwhile, in addition to job losses at the Ministry of Education, the government has signaled their changing approach to education with updates to the RAPLD priorities. Applications for the Term 1 round of RAPLD allocations will now be assessed against: 

  • “structured approaches to literacy, pānui and tuhituhi  
  • NCEA level 1 implementation and the co-requisites  
  • Assessment and aromatawai”. 

In the announcement, MoE stated that the priorities “have been realigned to support the Government’s commitment to increasing literacy rates for all students and upskilling existing kaiako in teaching reading and writing or pānui and tuhituhi and the use of assessment for learning and aromatawai.”  

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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