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Taupo Should Have Choice Of Schooling

11 August 2004

Taupo Families Should Have Choice Of Schooling In Their Home Town

Independent Schools of New Zealand Executive Director Joy Quigley says that the organisation she represents welcomes the opening of a new independent school in Taupo as families should have choice about the type of school that they wish to send their children to. For a variety of reasons not every local school suits every local child.

Many families currently exercise that choice by sending their children out of Taupo to boarding schools. Some of these are independent schools and they will be affected by the development of a new school.

However the strongly held view of ISNZ is that choice lifts standards across the whole education sector, and this has been supported by research undertaken by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research in 2003.

If it is serious about lifting education standards then it is time that the Labour Government reviewed its policy of slowly strangling independent schools. Their 2000 policy that capped funding for independent schools at $40.179 is having a serious impact on many of the 115 independent schools throughout New Zealand. Every year inflation erodes that capped amount significantly and every new child into the sector decreases the per capita amount available for each child.

However independent schools provide a wide range of support and opportunities for students that cannot always be available in the local state or state integrated school. Because parents pay their taxes for education they do not use as well as school fees independent schools save the state well over $100 million per year - without even including the considerable amount returned by way of GST on fees. The NZIER Report noted that increasing the state grant to independent schools will save the state even more money, allowing for it to be better directed in the state sector as necessary.

Meanwhile state integrated schools are fully funded by the taxpayer, and many still charge fees that in some cases are about the same as some independent schools charge. The Government should be more interested in controlling that aspect of government funding, and then acknowledge the contribution of independent schools by increasing equity for families who choose to access such a school for their children.

ENDS


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