Focusing school funding on equity for kids

The Government is expanding work done on replacing school deciles to look more broadly at what’s needed to ensure all children, including learners from socio economically disadvantaged backgrounds, get the support they need to learn.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said every child, regardless of their background, or disability or ability, has the right to an education that sets them up for life.

“We want to ensure that New Zealand’s education system successfully addresses the impact of socio-economic disadvantage on students and reduces the disparities between those from disadvantaged circumstances and other children,” Chris Hipkins said.

“This doesn’t mean that government won’t replace the decile funding system in future.

“But we will do so only when we are satisfied that any alternative will ensure greater success for our most disadvantaged learners, and is fundable and workable.

“The shift to an equity focus, means that the former Risk Index could now potentially be applied to a wider range of resources, such as school staffing, or supports for student wellbeing, to see if these resources could be better directed to reduce disadvantage.

“Originally, the index was only going to be used for the three percent of total school funding that supports them for disadvantage. But we want to use the index to look at all education supports and resources, across schooling and early learning, to see if they can be better used to reduce disadvantage.

“The extra work in applying the index to a broader range of educational resources means that, in the interim, officials will recalculate school decile funding, and the equity index for early learning services, following the 2018 census. New rates for schools and services would take effect in 2020.

“Some parts of the previous Funding Review will continue in different ways, while others will not.

“Learning support funding work will progress through the work on equity. Work on utilities funding, and on separate funding for property maintenance, will carry on in the School Property Project. Early learning per-child funding will now be considered in light of the Early Learning Strategic Plan.

“The Funding Review work on per-child funding in schools and funding for smallness and isolation for schools will be improved as opportunities arise. However, work on the per-child funding rate for schools will be discontinued. Work to change the private school per-child subsidy has also been ended.

“For now, we are focusing on extra funding in areas such as early learning and learning support, and on increasing participation in trade training or tertiary studies.

“These areas, and others like teacher supply, are being given priority over National’s decile replacement that never was.

“National’s decile plan could have cost around $100 million per year to implement in the schooling sector alone. But as was the case with many of the previous Government’s ideas, none of this funding was budgeted for,” Mr Hipkins said.

The Cab paper is here: http://education.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Ministry/consultations/Ed-Funding-System-Review/R-8Funding-Review-Cabinet-Paper.pdf