A political Hit job on ” At Risk ” school funding

Labour helpfully supplied a journalist with financial calculations that could be used to paint National’s new educational funding in a bad light.



Not surprisingly given that this was a hit job against the government the headline did not focus on the ” At Risk ” schools that benefit from the new funding system. Instead, the headline focussed on those who would not be getting the funding.The new system targets the schools that need the funding most. Instead of describing the funding as being targeted funding to ensure that the schools with the most ” At Risk ” students get the money that they need, the Herald described it as ” a radical new funding system”

Critics argue the funding shake-up will hurt some schools and force parents to fork out more for their child’s education. But the Government says it will target funding to those students who need the most help.

…Next year schools will get $92 in ?extra funding for each such student from a long-term welfare-dependent background.

The money is designed to close the gap in achievement between the top and bottom New Zealand children, and will be a substantial bonus for some schools – while also underlining the challenges they face.

For example, Hamilton’s Fairfield Primary School has about 206 children getting the targeted funding – just short of 70 per cent of its total roll and a total of $19,000 extra.

But others, including Auckland Grammar, will get less than they would have received had the usual general increase to help cover inflation been adopted.

Rangitoto College, the largest school in the country, will get just over $18,000 in at-risk funding – despite having 10 times more students than Fairfield.

School operations funding, which greatly affects resources and day-to-day operations, normally keeps pace with anticipated inflation, and the ministry acknowledges a “strong expectation” in the sector for that to happen.
However, base operations funding will not be inflation-adjusted next year.

Instead, the only extra money will be split between schools that have some of the 133,000 students judged to be at-risk.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has said that funding represents a 1 per cent increase to the $1.35 billion in grants allocated to schools.

The targeted approach means more than 1300 schools will get less money than they would have received, had that money been used for a general increase.

The difference ranges from a few hundred dollars up to $24,000.

…Labour says those figures are worse when each school’s share is compared to what they would need to cover Treasury’s Budget forecast of 1.5 per cent inflation.

It calculates 1894 schools will get a cut in real terms. Of those, 179 will receive a cut of more than $10,000.

…Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins said school budgets were already feeling the pinch and the at-risk funding model would worsen that – putting more pressure on parents.

…In response, Parata said operational grant increases had more than exceeded actual inflation since 2010, and next year increases would be targeted at children needing more support.

…”I’m surprised that Labour are so opposed to targeting funding to our most vulnerable children.”

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O’Connor said he favoured the funding review. The operational grant was now a small portion of the money used to run his school.

“As a state school the financial goodwill extended to the school from our parent community is what is core to maintaining our financial independence, with or without further cuts.”

Allan Vester, chairman of the NZ Secondary Principals Council and head of Edgewater College in Pakuranga, said for many schools the change to operational funding next year would not be major.

– NZ Herald