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Rural Schools Suffer Under Funding Formula

Media Release

Rural Schools Suffer Under Funding Formula

11 November 2002

Embargoed until 6am, Tuesday 12 November

Many rural schools are unfairly treated under the Ministry of Education's revised Targeted Funding For Isolation (TFI), according to a survey conducted by Rural Women New Zealand.

The survey, which was conducted during September/October, has revealed that apart from a small number of schools who are extremely isolated, the Isolation Index used to work out who should qualify for TFI seems to bear no practical relation to a school's isolation at all. Schools who are closer to services are just as likely to be receiving TFI as not.

''There are some serious anomalies in who qualifies for this funding,'' says Rural Women New Zealand's Education Convenor, Jacky Stafford. ''Some schools who are 19 km away from the place where they access all their services are receiving TFI, and others who are 39km away from the centre where they access only their basic services are not.''

66% of schools in the survey qualified for TFI but 67% of these had had their TFI decreased this year. Of the 15% of schools who reported their TFI had increased, 33% commented that they did not consider themselves to be isolated.

Mrs Stafford said that most of these schools qualified because they were far away from a population centre of 100 000. ''What the survey found, however, was that this centre often had absolutely no bearing on the delivery of services. In many cases the schools did not access a single service from this centre, yet it contributed to their Isolation Index.''

Schools who were closer to centres of 100 000 and did not access any services from it, but were further away from the smaller centres where they did access services, were often negatively effected by the formula.

''The Ministry of Education's funding formula appears to still be weighted too heavily in favour of population bases of 100 000,'' says Mrs Stafford. ''The revised formula was supposed to correct this problem but it clearly hasn't. The results of the survey would suggest that eliminating the 100 000 population centre from the funding formula completely might result in a fairer deal for genuinely isolated rural schools.''

Other points of interest in the survey results were:

a.. Only 26% of schools who have lost TFI have received a corresponding increase in their Operation Grant.

b.. 45% of schools who replied had fewer than 65 pupils. Of these 56% received TFI and 44% did not.

c.. The majority of schools access Professional Development from a population base of 20 000, not 100 000 as indicated by the Ministry of Education.

d.. 56% of schools have access to regular courier services.

e.. Only 13% of schools reported that they had good access to relievers. A more detailed survey of staffing would be useful.

f.. All five Area Schools who replied have had their TFI decreased by between 47 - 65%. The survey was based on replies from 116 rural schools throughout New Zealand.

End.

For copy of the full survey report contact Rural Women New Zealand National Office, ph: 04 473 5524.

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