Poorly focused scholarship funding redirected to improving education for all

  • Hon Jenny Salesa

The Government today took another step towards making education fairer for all by ending a private school scholarship scheme that offers only a small number of places at exclusive schools.

More than $4m a year currently used to fund Aspire scholarships  - which National introduced as part of a deal with the Act party in 2009 - will be redirected to boost education in state and state-integrated schools.

But Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa wanted to assure students, already attending a private school on an Aspire scholarship, they would not be disadvantaged. They would receive their full scholarship entitlement, until they decide to leave.

“We are committed to delivering equal access to education for every child,” Ms Salesa said:

“The scholarships were poorly targeted, often funding private education for those who were already enrolled in private schools.

“Subsidising taxpayer-funded access to private education for a small number of children is not fair. Some of these places are funded at more than $16,000 a year – that’s not good value when it comes to per-student funding.

“The millions of dollars spent on the scheme each year would be better spent strengthening our state and state-integrated schools. That’s the best way to ensure education works for all children.

“Our goal is to make every school an excellent school so that every child gets the opportunity to succeed.”

The decision means no new applications will be sought this year for the 2019 school year. However, students who already have a place won’t be affected.

Ms Salesa added: “I don’t want to disrupt the education of Aspire students already attending a private school so we will make sure they can continue to attend until they decide to leave.”

The Cabinet paper about the Aspire scholarships is available here: