The government is desperately trying to shut down the backlash over bigger class sizes by assuring schools they won't lose more than two teachers, Labour says.
Party leader David Shearer says Tuesday's announcement by Education Minister Hekia Parata is "a rushed attempt at damage control" after an outcry from parents and teachers.
"I've never heard of a government arguing in support of increased class sizes as part of improving education," he said.
"Schools have been clear that classes will suffer, including reading recovery, technology, science, art and drama."
Ms Parata announced before last week's budget that $43 million a year would be saved by standardising class sizes at one teacher for 27.5 pupils.
At present they range between 23 and 29 in each class, and the money saved is earmarked for teacher development.
Ms Parata says 90 per cent of schools will gain or lose one teacher and the other 10 per cent won't lose more than two teachers.
Some schools had estimated they would lose up to six teachers because of the bigger class sizes.
Ms Parata says none of Labour's claims about the impact of larger class sizes are correct.
She was asked in parliament on Tuesday how much of the $43m saving each year would be used up by ensuring no school lost more than two teachers, and said she didn't have the figures.
That shored up Labour's belief that the government is scrambling to placate teacher unions and parents who have been voicing opposition to bigger classes.
"It's an admission they got it wrong," Mr Shearer said.
Paul Drummond, president of the Principals Federation, says the government botched the policy."It misread research, failed to check with the professionals and completely ignored parents when it announced the new ratio," he said.
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