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Mallard adds to schools' funding problems

Hon Bill English National Education Spokesman

16 November 2004

Mallard adds to schools' funding problems

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says Labour's school-funding policies rely on mid- to high-decile schools charging fees to parents.

But in Parliament last week, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said he 'condemned' schools demanding the payment of fees and said he intended to put a stop to the practice.

Mr English says that if Mr Mallard follows through on this threat, some supposedly well-off schools could find themselves in serious financial trouble.

Decile 8-10 secondary schools receive $1,375 less government funding per student than decile 1-3 schools. Decile 8-10 primary schools receive $909 less per student than decile 1-3 schools.

"The invoices flooding into my office show that mid-high decile schools are making up some of the shortfall by charging between $160 and $200 in fees," says Mr English.

In 2003, 167 schools raised more money locally - including through the collection of school fees - than they actually received from the Government. Schools collected about $200 million in parental contributions and donations in 2003 - 34% more than in 2000.

"The loss of that kind of money will really hurt schools already struggling to provide quality education," says Mr English.

"Schools I have spoken to are worried that the Minister's public attack on the payment of school fees will mean fewer parents are willing to pay them. This is a real concern when their financial viability depends on what proportion of fees they can collect.

"Parents provide the millions that the Minister won't because they want the best available education for their kids, even if he doesn't," says Mr English.


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