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Points from the QPEC School Funding Meeting

Summary of points from the QPEC School Funding Meeting 15 March 2005 Chair Sir Paul Reeves

Quality education needs quality resourcing. All public schools are underfunded and need a substantial increase in operations funding in the 2005 budget.

The quality of education our schools can provide increasingly depends on the ability of parents to make up the difference between what the government provides and what schools know is needed for high quality education.

This has implications for all schools. At high decile schools parents are pressured to pay large student fees and the schools work to attract large numbers of foreign fee-payers to make up the difference. However low decile schools, despite the heavily weighted TFEA funding in their favour, remain well behind in income. For example a comparison of real schools conducted by COMET (City of Manukau Education Trust) spokesperson Stuart Middleton has shown that a decile 10 school with 100 foreign fee-payers and average parent “donations” has 25% more income per student than the same sized decile 1 school.

New Zealand should move away from decile based funding and change to funding the actual educational needs of students. Were this to occur then issues such as reading/vocab levels, special education needs and transience issues would be specifically measured and funded above the basic operations funding. The objective must be to give the highest quality education to every student irrespective of community or family income.

While operations grant funding has increased in recent years it is still well below the real and specific needs of quality education.

Small schools face special problems in not being able to make the economies of scale of larger schools. (this is specially true of Kura Kaupapa Maori schools which have an average student roll of just 74 students) The problem is that too much of a school’s income is based on roll numbers with the base funding component being much too small.

The government’s response is so often to create small pools of contestable funding to take the pressure off themselves and to give the impression they are doing a lot more than they actually are. Schools are left to fight over scraps of funding like a pack of hungry dogs around a well worn bone. Contestable funds are time consuming to apply for and a school has only a small chance of being successful. Currently there are as many as 35 contestable pools of funding in education!

Government has developed a second major objective for our public schools – that of income earner for the government through education of private students from overseas. These foreign fee-payers are now a major income earner for the country. Maintaining downwards pressure on the operations grant has the effect of pressuring schools to seek out and enrol more foreign students which in turn brings in more revenue for the government. The government’s objectives for schools are now muddied and confused.

This is reflected also in the focus of BOT’s and principals shifting from providing quality education for New Zealand children to agonising over balancing the books, eternal fundraising and attracting foreign fee-payers.

Pressure to attract additional funding from the private sector has seen schools engage in unethical practices such as selling naming rights to sponsors and in the US practices such as compulsory viewing by students of commercials from school sponsors. These dangers are here and must be challenged. It is unethical to allow students to be used as a captive audience for advertisers.

Where to from here?

It is imperative that BOT’s, principals, teachers and parents write to the government within the next 3 weeks asking for the desperately needed substantial funding increase for all schools in the 2005 budget.

We are suggesting Boards of Trustees write or email the government ministers concerned School principals do likewise School principals encourage parents – both in PTA groups as well as individually – to write/email the government. (A note in the school newsletter to encourage parents would be appropriate) Teachers write/email likewise. We encourage the teacher organisations NZEI and PPTA to take a lead to help achieve this objective.

Write to - Helen Clark – Prime Minister

Trevor Mallard – Minister responsible for Vote Education (the money!)

David Benson Pope – Minister responsible for schools If you are mailing a letter YOU DO NOT NEED A STAMP. Just send to the minister at –

Parliament Buildings Wellington

You may download and print off a form letter here and send it direct to the Ministers concerned. Alternatively you can cut and paste your own letter and include details of your own local situation.

If you are able please email us a copy of your correspondence to –

Linda Williams – QPEC National Secretary

“We may succeed with persuasion through a thousand pinpricks”

John Minto National Chairperson

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