National sceptical of Labour's plan for 600 learning support workers

The Labour-led Government is simply continuing "National's record investment in learning support", according to Opposition education spokesperson Nikki Kaye.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced 600 learning support coordinators would be employed and accessible to every New Zealander by 2020.

Ms Ardern said the coordinators would "free up teachers so all children get more quality classroom time", and criticised how learning support staff had been forgotten over the last decade.

But Ms Kaye has thrown water on that, claiming that National was spending up to $658 million a year on learning support by the time it left office - an increase of 30 percent since 2008.

The $217 million investment over four years would bring the extra funding the current Government has put into learning support since it entered office late last year to $500 million, according to Ms Ardern.

While she welcomed that investment, Ms Kaye said with the current teacher shortage, pay negotiations on-going, and planned strikes by teachers, that 600 figure may be hard to achieve.

"With demand for teachers so high, the plan relies on the Government getting its teacher recruitment and retention strategy right to fill shortages now and in the future, and to avoid the planned teacher strikes," she said.

"Some estimates indicate we will be thousands of teachers short over the next five years. With the Ministry's own data, it is not clear how the Government will deliver these first 600 teachers."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged the current demand for teachers, but believed the two-year window provided enough time for the recruitment drive to ramp up.

Ms Kaye said in October that if she was Education Minister, she would increase the current pay offer of an annual 3 percent pay rise over three years, as well as making good on her party's promise to commit to reducing the teacher-student ratio and providing special education support to students at primary school.