Frequently asked questions – property programme
The scale of investment in education renewal
1. Why has the Government opted to spend $1.137 billion rather than repair existing facilities at a lower cost?
Investing $1.137 billion dollars to renew the education infrastructure will provide a leading, modern centre of learning that can offer the standard and range of educational options sought after by families and international learners – this provides a valuable asset for Christchurch and its surrounds, the wider region, and New Zealand.
The Government’s education renewal approach considers changes in land use, demographic patterns and community needs. It also factors in the status, sustainability and whole of life costs of school buildings, as well as the integrity and future needs of the whole schooling network.
This approach reflects community feedback about taking the opportunity to be innovative and to support improved outcomes in education (more than 500 written submissions were received in the 2011 consultation process).
2. What will the $1.137 billion pay for?
The Christchurch programme is the largest single investment in education infrastructure in New Zealand. It involves 115 schools (including two teen parent units) and is valued at $1.137 billion.
- 13 schools will be built on new sites
- 10 schools will be completely rebuilt on their existing sites
- 34 schools will undergo major redevelopment
- 58 schools will undergo moderate redevelopment
Impact on education
3. What will this investment actually mean for the quality of education?
The delivery of safe and inspiring, modern and connected learning environments will support the latest developments in teaching and learning practice that are shown to lift student engagement and improve achievement levels.
The approach to education renewal has seen the formation of learning community clusters that increase collaboration between schools and educators.
This collaborative approach is reflected in the infrastructure programme design, which supports schools to share resources and broaden learning options for their learners.
4. Why a ten-year programme?
This programme ($1.137 billion) will be implemented alongside the ongoing Christchurch rebuild programme ($40 billion).
The schedule of works has been developed in a way that will:
- minimise disruption to schools and ensure continuity of education
- ensure sufficient levels of services, suppliers, trades and labour
- sequence and bundle projects in ways that will deliver the best value for money while maintaining quality, and health and safety standards.
The Ministry will review the programme in 2017 to identify any opportunities to bring forward scheduled works.
There may also be opportunities to bring forward works through bulk procurement and other strategies.
5. What will be the pace of change?
The planned approach is to progress a new group of schools every six months for the next ten years.
$115 million of construction tenders are now ready for release.
Around $500m of investment will have been committed by 2017.
6. How has the sequence of works been determined?
The sequence of works will prioritise:
- scheduled school mergers and closure dates
- addressing capacity needs in line with student population movements and projected roll growth
- opportunities to provide modern learning environments across schools
- options to bundle works in ways that will minimise disruption to school operations and deliver the best value for money.
7. Are the badly affected eastern suburbs a priority?
Yes, alongside other key issues, like the need to address the impacts of demographic changes on west Christchurch.
8. How firm are the planned dates for scheduled works?
The Ministry regularly reviews its capital investment programmes and timelines to consider any impacts brought by changes in the economy, market capacity and procurement strategies.
The above factors can affect planned timings. To mitigate this the Ministry will be:
- liaising with other agencies about market construction capacity and related issues to ensure a coordinated approach
- monitoring progress and using bulk procurement strategies that may identify opportunities to bring works forward
- conducting a review in 2017 to specifically identify works that can be accelerated.
9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being placed at the beginning, middle or end of the programme?
Schools positioned towards the start of the programme will be the early beneficiaries of the Government’s investment.
Schools positioned later in the programme can put more time into discussing their future needs and consider the experiences of schools positioned at the start of the programme.
10. How will you ensure schools scheduled later on in the programme don’t miss out?
Funding has already been allocated for each school involved in the programme over the ten-year period.
Approach to implementation
11. What happens to my school between now and when work begins?
The Ministry will continue to support schools to maintain their facilities and address any other needs that arise prior to the commencement of scheduled works.
12. Can schools choose to manage property work themselves?
No. The Government recently released an eight-point plan to transform the way school property is delivered.
The plan emphasises how the Ministry of Education will use system levers to support sector leaders, Boards of Trustees and principals, by freeing them of operational functions, so they can increase their focus on professional matters of teaching and learning.
The plan recognises the significant benefits of taking a coordinated approach to large scale programmes and developments, and offering schools a range of services, including:
- property services and expertise procured through national programmes that can deliver higher quality services and products for improved value for money
- access to services through the Ministry that will minimise the time school leaders have to commit to administering individual tendering processes and day-to-day project management
- allowing a specific school that may have limited expertise in property management, or one that may want to reduce time spent on property matters, to increase its focus on teaching and learning.
13. How will you ensure that students’ learning is not disrupted while works are carried out?
The Ministry works closely with school Boards of Trustees to minimise disruptions to day-to-day operations when property works are in progress.
Construction projects are staged to ensure adequate teaching and staff space is maintained at all times and, where necessary, high standard relocatable buildings are used to provide alternative teaching and staff space.
The Ministry adheres to Government guidelines and requirements – health and safety standards are included in all supplier agreements.
14. Will scheduled works incorporate ICT upgrades?
Yes. All schools are included in the School Network Upgrade Programme (SNUP), which upgrades schools’ internal data and electrical cabling infrastructure to improve internal network performance and maximise use of ultra-fast broadband. SNUP is scheduled for completion in 2016.
ICT upgrades will be factored into all scheduled works.
The situation for specific schools
15. How will the release of the programme impact Phillipstown and Woolston schools?
Both schools were considered in the initial planning phase for the programme but the nature of investment, timing and level of expenditure will not be confirmed until the outcomes of current consultation and final decisions by Government are known.
Property processes for schools not included in the programme
16. How will schools outside the programme progress their property works?
This programme applies to Crown-owned state schools.
This programme does not impact private and integrated schools that have their own property processes (current support and subsidies for a range of infrastructure needs will be unchanged).
There are 44 state schools that sustained a lesser degree of damage and are not included in the programme. These schools:
- have already been repaired through normal property funding processes
- will continue to access property funding in the same way all other schools in New Zealand do to support maintenance and development of their facilities (all schools prioritise property funding to first address health and safety and essential infrastructure, and then to develop modern learning environments).
Schools not included in the programme should contact their Property Advisor in the normal way to discuss their specific property needs or for more information about the greater Christchurch and other national infrastructure programmes.
17. Will the Christchurch programme take precedence over other school infrastructure projects around New Zealand?
No. Budget 2013 set aside $134 million to support new schools and roll growth across the country over the next four years. $70 million of this has already been allocated to the establishment of three new schools in South Auckland, Hamilton North and Queenstown, and the creation of 65 additional classrooms over the next two years.
The Government has just released its eight-point plan to transform school property in New Zealand which will continue to see investment in areas of growth; help schools resolve outstanding property issues faster; provide greater support for major property works; and offer a flexible range of property services to schools.
The plan commits $300 million over six years to assist around 30 schools to address complex property issues. The programme is now underway in two Auckland schools (Southern Cross Campus and Freemans Bay School) with more schools to be announced in early 2014.
18. Does this programme signal a change in the approach to education provision for the rest of New Zealand?
The Canterbury Earthquakes challenged everyone to think outside the square about the provision of essential services and the Government has been keen to capture the lessons and provide better public services to the New Zealand public.
Some approaches to the redevelopment of greater Christchurch schools may inform the approach taken elsewhere in New Zealand – at this stage there is no plan to apply the greater Christchurch approach to any other area of New Zealand.
Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres
19. What role does the Ministry have in ECE property across greater Christchurch?
The Ministry’s Schools Infrastructure Group issues leases for Crown-owned land and buildings. ECE centres located on or within Ministry-administered land or buildings must have a lease or a Property Occupancy Document which sets out the terms and conditions of a centre’s use of Ministry property.
As part of the greater Christchurch Renewal programme, the Ministry is undertaking detailed engineering evaluations on all buildings on Ministry land, which includes buildings occupied by ECE services.
This work will inform the Ministry’s approach to any earthquake resilience work required.
20. When will strengthening work take place?
The Ministry will provide ECE services with a copy of finalised detailed engineering evaluations and a contact they can discuss the findings with.
Timelines for strengthening works will depend on a variety of factors, including the detailed engineering evaluations’ results and how required works fit with the wider education renewal programme.
21. I am on a school site which is being redeveloped or closed. What will happen to my ECE service?
Each affected ECE service will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the location of the service the ECE may be surveyed off the site and a new lease issued.
Modern Learning Environments
22. What is a modern learning environment (MLE)?
There are two key aspects to MLEs – core and advanced.
- Core standards for MLEs refer to essential infrastructure (heating, lighting, ventilation and acoustics, and Ministry standard cabling to support ICT).
- Advanced MLEs are used in all new schools constructed today and encompass both ‘above core standards’ and flexible teaching zones that can easily be reconfigured and used in a variety of ways.
These environments are specifically created to enable the latest teaching and learning practices which focus on greater collaboration and interaction. This aligns with the directions of the New Zealand Curriculum which states that students learn at their best when they are actively involved in decision making, initiating learning themselves, collaborating and making connections within and across learning areas.
School Network Upgrade Programme (SNUP)
23. What is the School Network Upgrade Programme?
The Ministry of Education School Network Upgrade Project subsidises and manages upgrades of internal IT networks in state and state-integrated schools to ensure all teaching spaces are networked and ready for ultra-fast broadband.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)
24. What is a public private partnership (PPP)?
A private partner is responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining the school property for the term of the contract (25 years from the opening of the secondary school). The design team will work closely with the school to ensure the building meets the schools vision for teaching and learning. The contract requires a high standard of facilities maintenance from the private partner. Where the Private Partner fails to meet those standards, they suffer financial deductions. This effectively provides a 25-year guarantee on the buildings, unlike schools procured under traditional models.
The provision of education remains the responsibility of the Board of Trustees and the Principal. Boards will decide whether community groups are able to use the facilities and what they will charge for this.
The Government retains ownership of the land and buildings throughout the life of the contract.
25. What are some of the benefits of a PPP for school property?
Having a professional facilities manager responsible for school property reduces the amount of time senior school staff spend on property, freeing up this time to be spent on teaching and learning.
PPP schools (for example Hobsonville Point Primary School) are designed and built to meet the Ministry’s weather-tightness requirements, but if any defects arise over the life of the contract, the private sector partner is responsible for correcting them as quickly as possible.
For some projects, a PPP offers the best opportunity to deliver value for money. This is because the private sector partner engaged to deliver the asset is also responsible for its long-term performance, so they make design, construction and maintenance decisions with the longer term in mind.