A potential new school funding mechanism to replace the current decile-based funding system has been met with a mix of praise and scepticism.
A new proposal suggests giving schools extra funding for each child they enrolled from families with one of four risk factors: long-term receipt of benefits, a mother with no qualifications, a parent who has been to prison, and the child or a sibling being abused. Schools with a concentration of students with risk factors would receive additional funding, under the proposal. Similar funding systems have shown to be effective in other countries, including The Netherlands and Australia.
The current school funding system is under review by the government. Education Minister Hekia Parata says the process needs to take its course and a decision won’t be reached for some time. The current decile system – which Parata has described as a “blunt instrument” – allocates funding based on the proportion of a school’s students who come from the poorest neighbourhoods.
PPTA Secondary Principals' Council president Allan Vester told Newstalk ZB he supported the new proposal.
"On the basis of what I understand, in fact, I'd be supporting the model at least in the general direction that the model is heading."
He says that if a student moves schools or sectors, the data moves with the student, in contrast to the decile system which takes a more broad brush approach.
However, Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins thought the proposed system might have potential to create more inequalities if poorly designed.
"Are mothers going to have to show up with evidence of what their qualifications are and if that changes during a student’s time at school does the funding get cut?" he told Stuff.
NZEI Te Riu Roa president Louise Green says the real problem is that schools are underfunded.
"That’s why the focus on the funding review must address underfunding. Playing with statistics will not fix the problem.”
Read Education Review's recent article on the future of school funding here.