Minister of Education Hekia Parata announced today an increase in funding to support students at risk of under achieving. Under a new targeted funding scheme, schools will receive $92 for each eligible student, as opposed to just $16 under a blanket distribution.
The Education Ministry has worked with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to identify around 133,000 eligible students spread across nearly every school in the country. Almost every state, state-integrated school and kura will receive a share of an extra $12.3 million, which represents a one per cent increase to the $1.35 billion in operations grants funding for 2017.
“So let’s be clear, there is no funding freeze,” says Parata. “The education sector has been asking for more funding for students at greatest risk of educational underachievement, which is exactly what we’re doing with this targeted funding,”
“Unlike in previous years, the increased money is being targeted to those students at risk of under achievement. These are students from families on long term welfare, as evidence shows that these students are one of the biggest groups at risk of not being successful at school.”
Schools are being notified today of the exact amount they will be receiving in the targeted funding. Low decile schools, and regions with large numbers of students ‘at risk’ of educational underachievement, will benefit most from the targeted funding increase.
Some will receive a few hundred dollars, while other up to $57,000. One school will receive $109,000, owing to the challenges their students face.
Secondary school union PPTA agrees that targeted funding is a step in the right direction, but argues that funding needs to be higher still. The union also says the criteria for eligible students should be extended to other indicators beyond long-term welfare to determine where the funding needs to be directed. Equity funding will be a major discussion point at the PPTA’s annual conference held later this month.
Primary school union NZEI Te Riu Roa agrees the level of funding is not enough. President Louise Green says using targeting without an increase in universal funding was simply 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'.
"This tiny amount of targeted funding comes at the expense of a one per cent increase in overall school operational funding. When you take inflation into account this amounts to a freeze on funding to schools."
The Ministry has come under attack recently from the PPTA and NZEI for its early funding review proposals. The unions are currently holding combined meetings around the country in response to the proposal about global funding, which unions say represents a return to bulk funding.
However, the Education Minister says the review is in its infancy and no decisions will be made without sector consultation.
“This extra funding is a clear example of how our funding system could be changed to get more support to those students who need it most,” she says.