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Growth-Decline Across Education Requires Action

Growth and Decline Across Education Requires Budget Action

The opening of a new Catholic secondary school in East Auckland highlights the growth of schools in high income communities across New Zealand and the static – sometimes declining – rolls of schools in low income communities.

(Some media commentators have suggested the new school represents more parents wanting their children to receive a catholic education but in reality all schools in high income communities – state or integrated - turn away children who want to enrol while schools in low income communities – including catholic schools – can often struggle to attract enrolments. Some Catholic schools have closed in recent years as a result)

This has been a phenomenon over the past decade under Tomorrow’s Schools as parents try to enrol their children in schools in high income communities because of their perception of a higher quality education.

With schools now relying on parents for more funding (in secondary schools this figure has risen to 17% of the day to day running of a school) the resources available at schools in high income communities are outstripping schools in low income communities.

For example Auckland City Councillor Scott Milne last week suggested much greater resources being put into Penrose High School as a way to change community perception of the school and take enrolment pressure off popular central Auckland secondary schools.

This concept has merit because while all schools are underfunded, the funding shortfall is felt most keenly in schools in middle and lower income communities.

The 2004 budget has the opportunity to ensure substantial increases in funding for all public schools but also to recognise where the need is greatest – middle and low income schools.

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