Multimillion-dollar boost for Auckland schools to counter population boom

The Government has committed $200 million to build a new primary school and more than 200 new classrooms around Auckland to accomodate the city's growing population.

The construction of a new primary school in Milldale, Wainui, to accommodate 370 additional students, will take around $20 million of that funding. 

Most of it - $155 million - will go towards 228 new classrooms in 42 schools across Auckland, accommodating around 4700 additional students. 

The expansion of Hingaia Peninsula Primary School will get $5 million to allow 25 more students, while the rest of the funding - around $20 million - will build 27 classrooms in nine schools across Tai Tokerau. 

The $200 million boost is part of the $1.2 billion over 10 years funding increase for school property allocated in the Wellbeing Budget, the details of which were announced in May. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement on Friday alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a visit to Hingaia Peninsula School, in southwest Auckland. 

"Our [National Education Growth Plan] includes individualised growth plans for regions with the highest forecast student population growth," Hipkins said. 

Hingaia Peninsula School, in southwest Auckland.
Hingaia Peninsula School, in southwest Auckland. Photo credit: Google Maps

It's forecast 100,000 additional student places will be needed by 2030, of which 60,000 are needed in Auckland and 40,000 in growth areas outside of Auckland.

New Zealand's population is on track to hit 5 million by the end of the year. 

"We are already experiencing unprecedented growth in the number of school-aged children in parts of the country. This is expected to continue and even increase in some areas over the next decade," Hipkins said. 

"We know this puts a strain on school space and resources. We are committed to not just delivering more student places, but ensuring we deliver those places where they are most needed."

"Our investment in schools is yet another way the Government's making progress to make sure that New Zealand is the best place in the world to be a child," added Ardern.

Further announcements about investment in school property, including the release of growth plans for other regions, will be made in the coming weeks. 

The latest funding boost follows the Government's announcement last year it would invest $49 million in Auckland schools, including building a new primary school and expanding others. 

That funding was part of $332 million announced in the Government's 2018 Budget to meet roll growth pressures. 

The latest investment announcement comes as primary and secondary school teachers accepted the Government's latest pay offer, worth more than $1.4 billion. 

But principals rejected the offer, as the Government did not offer primary principals pay parity with secondary school principals.