With more than 765,000 Kiwi kids returning to or starting school in the last few weeks, it’s important parents and caregivers know how much this Government is prioritising their success.

Giving young people the best possible start to their lives through high-quality education is one of the most important investments we can make as a government. This year, that investment will be at its highest ever—over $11 billion. Since 2008/09, the National-led government has increased education funding by 35 per cent while student numbers have increased by only 3.6 per cent.

The facts are these: no previous government has made bigger investments in educating Kiwi kids, and no other OECD country spends a higher proportion of its public spending on education than New Zealand does.

Along with the right funding, schools need the right infrastructure. Since 2008/09, our spending on school property has exceeded $5 billion including around 50 new schools or school expansions, over 30 major redevelopments and hundreds of additional classrooms. These projects are allowing schools across New Zealand to accommodate roll growth and make sure kids are learning in warm, modern classrooms.

Our commitment to education has been demonstrated just this week with Prime Minister Bill English announcing a major redevelopment of Auckland’s Long Bay Primary School and officially opening Christchurch’s state-of-the-art Haeata Community Campus, which will cater to almost 1,000 local kids.

Getting the most from our education system is not solely about how much we spend – it’s about making sure funding is going to those who need it the most. This is why we have taken a more student-focused approach to operational funding. Instead of distributing operational grants to every school, the fund is being targeted to schools with students most at risk of underachievement. Not only have operational grants increased under our government, but this funding is now being used to ensure our most at-risk young people have access to the resources they need to succeed at school.

Our government owes it to parents, taxpayers and young people to make sure everyone is getting the most out of our education system and—like the rest of the public sector—every school needs to think smarter about how to use their funding.

Getting a return on the government’s $11 billion investment means young people are succeeding and our economy is benefitting from a new generation of high-achieving young Kiwis.