Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says there is a need for consultants to achieve the required changes to the country’s education system.

Staff say the Ministry of Education is already preparing consultancy firms to do the work of people who are being laid off.

The ministry has proposed cutting a total of 755 positions, of which 316 are currently vacant, to meet government cost-cutting targets.

The ministry has told consultancies it will have contracts for training and advising teachers on NCEA changes, and on the qualification’s literacy and numeracy requirements.

RNZ understands both areas are currently covered by ministry staff, who are losing their jobs.

RNZ has also been told consulting firms are now asking some of the staff being made redundant to work for them, essentially doing the same work but at double the price the ministry would have paid.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon told Morning Report he was not aware of anyone being made redundant and then re-hired as a consultant.

“I’m not aware of that, all I can just say is we are going to use consultants particularly in the roll out of structured literacy, we’ve got almost 9000 teachers to train before the end of the year, we want every teacher year zero to six to be able to teach structured literature in the same way… all across the country.”

Asked if this proved that the ministry actually needed the people who were being made redundant, Luxon said there was really clear direction and ministries have been told to stop programmes that were not working and not a priority for the government.

The government was still committed to reducing its spend on consultants in the public service, Luxon said.

“But there will also still be a need for consultants where there are deep subject matter experts.”