MoE back at helm of school expansions

Previously run under a private-public partnership, some school expansions are reverting to a Ministry-run model.

The Ministry of Education is back at the helm of financing, designing and building school expansions following low interest from the private sector on certain projects previously run under private-public partnerships (PPP).  

The PPP model was used to build infrastructure for ten schools under the previous National government. The approach was ended in 2017 when the Labour government took power.  

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Now, seven of the schools built under the model have seen a growth in rolls which require expansion. An OIA request from RNZ to the Ministry of Education show that although a tender process was entered into, MoE received a limited number of responses.  

Construction companies say a PPP model for school-builds is currently unattractive. Image: AdobeStock by Kadmy

“One of these responses flagged to the ministry that using the standard PPP terms and conditions in the PPP managed expansions made the process more difficult and complex,” read the OIA response.  

The Ministry followed up on the process by liasing with other companies known for PPP overseas. It concluded that market feedback “signals that construction suppliers are not interested in the PPP model.” 

This feedback was given to Minister of Education Erica Stanford, who was told that reluctance is partially due to an “onerous performance regime” in New Zealand compared to other markets like the USA.  

“This direction has resulted in a ministry-led approach for the design and build of the remaining expansions, with hand back to the relevant consortia upon the completed buildings for long-term facilities management,” said MoE.  

MoE said that the PPP model is flexible and they will continue to adapt it for future school-build projects.  

The Ministry has said it will be preparing additional advice to the Minister on her request about “potential delivery options for school property.”  

The advice on PPP was received by the inquiry into school property management.  

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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