The Ministry of Education and  Oranga Tamariki confirm job cut proposals (Image: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)
The Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki confirm job cut proposals (Image: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)

The BulletinApril 18, 2024

Over 3,000 public service jobs now proposed to go

The Ministry of Education and  Oranga Tamariki confirm job cut proposals (Image: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)
The Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki confirm job cut proposals (Image: Anna Rawhiti-Connell)

The Ministry of Education confirmed a proposal to reduce headcount by 565, while Oranga Tamariki’s proposal would result in a loss of 447 jobs, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Ministry of Education and Oranga Tamariki job cuts proposed

As Azaria Howell reports for The Herald, yesterday, an additional 1,000 roles were added to the tally of proposed or confirmed public service job cuts. The Ministry of Education confirmed a proposal that would result in a net reduction of 565 roles, 225 of which are already vacant. At Oranga Tamariki, 632 roles are proposed to be disestablished, and 185 are proposed to be created— resulting in a net loss of 447 jobs.

Oranga Tamariki FTE – last five years (Public Service Commission)

Oranga Tamariki’s workforce has grown from 3,970 full-time roles to 4,904 in five years. It’s an agency that’s come in for a lot of criticism, with chief ombudsman Peter Boshier (who is now staying in his role FYI) recently calling for sweeping changes.

Roles involved in school lunch programme proposed to be cut

The Public Service Association (PSA) said the proposed Ministry of Education cuts represent 12% of the workforce. The workforce has grown from 2,904 in Q2 of 2018 to 4,509 at the end of December.

Ministry of Education FTE – last five years (Public Service Commission)

Roles proposed for disestablishment include 14 people (including eight nutrition experts) who work on the free school lunch programme. As Howell reports, 197 roles are set to go from the curriculum centre, 91 from regional offices, 39 from its property group and 22 from policy positions. The Post’s Tom Pullar-Strecker wrote a very good breakdown of where that growth occurred last November (much-requested context is often always there). He concluded that the biggest single explanation for the increase in the ministry’s workforce is that, since 2017, it has taken on 550 extra education advisers and an additional 170 curriculum advisers and related staff. Aspects of the curriculum content are now being reviewed by a new ministerial advisory group, while a review is underway into school property projects.

Over 3,000 roles have or are proposed to be disestablished

At the end of December 2023, Public Services Commission data shows that there were 65,699 full-time roles within the public service, up from 49,730 in Q2 of 2018. BusinessDesk’s Jem Traylen did some useful number crunching (paywalled) on where that growth occurred and the size of the public service late last year. Using Stuff’s running total, of the over 36,000 roles across the agencies, departments and Crown Enterprises (including Callaghan Innovation and the Internal Affairs unit dealing with water reform) that have made job cut proposals represent an 8.2% reduction in public sector roles to date. By way of comparisons, thanks to The Post’s Anna Whyte, the reforms and cuts of the 1980s reduced the public service from 66,000 workers in 1984 to less than half that by the end of the 90s.

New guidelines on when you should and shouldn’t send kids to school

In education adjacent news, associate education minister David Seymour announced yesterday that the promised guidelines to help parents and schools decide whether a child is too sick to attend or not have been released.  The guidelines recommend sending your child to school if they have a mild cough, headache, runny or blocked nose, “usual” symptoms relating to a known allergy or skin problems that aren’t infectious, like eczema. The Herald’s Claire Trevett writes (paywalled) that Seymour has made something of a rod for his own back in the school attendance targets. On absences relating to illness, Trevett argues Seymour will be relying on the quiet majority who do think the bar for “keeping a kid home” has “got too low”, but his solution “runs contrary to his usual political philosophy” of people being better placed than politicians or bureaucrats to make decisions about the way they live their lives. That’s akin to the line prime minister Christopher Luxon was running on the teaching of sex ed in schools in November (since revised).

This image has not been altered in any way

This morning on The Spinoff  Emily Writes has her own summation of how to interpret the guidelines. “If your child has a snotty nose, Seymour would like you to share it with your child’s underpaid and overworked teachers. Because if everyone has a snotty nose, then that’s basically the same as no one having a snotty nose. If any teachers cannot work because they have pneumonia combined with the runs, they can be replaced by the hundreds of public servants who will soon be unemployed.”

Keep going!