[Sitting date: 31 May 2012. Volume:680;Page:2755. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the
Minister of Education: Did she ask for, or receive, a list of the schools that would lose or gain more than one teacher as a result of the new ratios, prior to taking the policy to Cabinet for approval; if not, why did she not ask for that list?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education)
: As I clarified in the House last night, my office received a list of schools that were affected by a combination of forecasted roll growth and ratio changes. However, this list was based on a different funding formula.
Chris Hipkins: Did she ask for a further breakdown or any further information on the likely impact of the proposed new teacher-pupil ratios on the schools that had been identified as likely to lose more than one teacher as a result of the change, before she took the proposal to Cabinet; if not, why did she not ask for that information?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: In the iterative policy process I asked for breakdowns of different parts of that, and I took those impacts to Cabinet.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked her whether she had received a further breakdown on the impact of those proposed new teacher-pupil ratios, and I am not sure that she answered that question. She said she asked for a range of information, but I was asking specifically about the schools that lost more than one teacher, and she did not address that.
Mr SPEAKER: Does the Minister wish to add anything further to her answer?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Yes, Mr Speaker. What I said was that in the development of the policy there are a number of iterative processes, and those have led to running lists that are relevant to those refinements, and that included what the impact would be on the 90 percent that would gain one or another. The member is suggesting that there was one finite stage. In the iterative process we have looked at what the impacts were for the 90 percent that have gained or lost one, and for the 10 percent on which it had a bigger effect.
Chris Hipkins: Did she examine the final list of schools that would lose more than one teacher as a result of her ratio changes?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Yes.
Chris Hipkins: Did the Cabinet paper she presented proposing the change to the teacher-pupil ratios contain a breakdown of the number of schools likely to lose teachers, gain teachers, or have the same number of teachers as a result of the change; if not, why not?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Cabinet made a decision on the basis of our focus on how we would raise quality, how we would raise student achievement, and what the impact would be across the 2,436 schools, and it wanted assurance that the 90 percent would either lose or gain one full-time teaching equivalent, that the 10 percent would experience a greater impact, and that we had transition options and contingency funding available to deal with that.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not entirely sure I followed all of that, and as a result of that, I am not entirely sure that she has addressed the question that I asked.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is a difficult situation we get into where, you know, the question asked was actually an absolutely proper question. It did not make any assertion in it. It did not have any content alleging anything that happened. It just asked: did the paper the Minister took to Cabinet contain a list of the schools that would lose however many full-time teacher equivalents? In answering, the Minister said that Cabinet made its decision based on these sorts of things. If the question had asked on what basis Cabinet made its decision, that would have been a perfect answer. But the questioner did not ask that. It could be a perfectly acceptable answer to say: “I do not reveal to the House the detailed content of a paper put in front of Cabinet.”, I guess. But simply to ignore the question asked, I believe—[Interruption] Order! I am on my feet—is not reasonable. I think the member has got a fair point. He asked an absolutely straight question, and it was totally ignored.
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I am sorry if my hearing is not as good as yours, but I am not sure that that was the actual question that was asked. Could we have the question repeated?
Mr SPEAKER: Indeed. Certainly. I am very happy to do that. Chris Hipkins, please, to repeat the question.
Chris Hipkins: I am very happy to repeat it. Did the Cabinet paper she presented proposing the change to teacher-pupil ratios contain a breakdown of the number of schools likely to lose teachers, gain teachers, or have the same number of teachers as a result of the change; if not, why not?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I did take a paper that had a breakdown of the numbers of schools. I did not take a paper that had the list of the specific schools.