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Talk-ED Special: Ratio rationale – staffing allowance cuts

Stuart Middleton
EDTalkNZ Special
29 May 2012 


I knew there was a question to ask about the debate on the changes to the staff / student ratios and I am glad I asked it. Of course, as is de rigueur in such instances, I was abused for asking why some schools were claiming large reductions when the ratios in fact did not produce any.

Well the answer is clear now and I thank those who helped me out and as this morning’s NZ Herald makes abundantly clear, the issue is not in the ratios but in a staffing allowance that has been axed at the same time – the allowance for technology teachers in intermediate schools.

An intermediate with 1000 students will lose 6.45 teachers based on losing the 1: 120 for technology and a change from 1:29 to 1:27.5 in the teacher student ratio.

This is a significant change and should have been made explicit in the releases and subsequent reactions. Discussion can now focus on this one issue and resolve it one way or another. Is it an unintended consequence or the result of over sight? Or is it a decision that the allowance should end? Both these possibilities lead to a different sort of discussion and a different resolution.

And resolved it must be – it involves a huge number of people – about 460 in total.


Published inEducation


  1. Martin Ball Martin Ball

    You and others keep repeating the term “technology teachers” but ALL specialists are to be cut, most notably those delivering The Arts curriculum but also, ironically, in our case, the teacher delivering EfS (Eucation for Sustainability) which the government says they want to put more funds into.

  2. Tony Kane Tony Kane

    I have always read your columns with interest for their enlightening comments on education, Stuart, but am somewhat bemused by the lack of understanding of the way that teacher numbers are calculated. The Primaries, of course, gather students as the year progresses, making staffing calculations difficult. Secondaries are simpler and – as I guess others will have pointed out – not calculated on 1st July numbers. By this stage, a number will have left for courses, employment, Australia, etc. Your calculation that secondaries will gain on average is then flawed. A quick check for logic would have told you this: Year 9 and 10 ratios both increase. Year 11 ratio decreases by about the same proportion. Year 12 declines slightly, Year 13 rises slightly close to cancelling out. Teacher numbers in the average secondary school must then fall. The Minister is using sophistry when she suggests that 80% will rise or fall by only one teacher. I doubt that there is a secondary school in the country where there is a rise. We will lose around 1.5 teacher equivalents. After so many great columns, I was disappointed by your analysis of a significant issue. Perhaps getting out into a secondary school or two?

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