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Government “treads water” on School Funding

Government “treads water” on School Funding

The government is “treading water” on school funding.

The two reports released yesterday – the Ministry of Education Review of Schools’ Operational Funding and the Education Review Office’s report into school’s use of operational funding – add nothing new. Both simply confirm what everyone in the community has known for a long time.

Our schools are under funded and the government has been in denial for years. It seems clear the government called for the reports to stall community concern instead of committing to increase school funding.

We can find nothing in either report which is not already well known.

The problems are:

• Government increases in the bulk-funded operations grant have consistently been under the rate of inflation

• The bulk-funded nature of operations funding has meant that each year schools have effectively received a cut in government funding

• The real cost of school education is increasing but government funding is still based on a “chalk and dusters” model

• The quality of education in schools increasingly depends on parents’ ability to pay

While the government was releasing these reports into the Christmas rush, the Minister of Finance was elsewhere trumpeting reductions in tax for businesses. Labour’s priorities are round the wrong way.

QPEC hosted a Summit on Resourcing for Quality Public Education last month and we were able to provide a much more incisive look at education resourcing. The summary of school resourcing is included as a PS to this media release.

John Minto

National Chairperson

Summary of School Resourcing from QPEC Summit on Resourcing for Quality Public Education (22 November 2006)

• Government funding has been decreasing as a percentage of school income over recent years.


1995 2005 2005 percentage from parents/community
Primary 90.5% 88.9% 11.1%
Secondary 85.8% 82.8% 17.2%

• “Local fundraising” (School fees/“voluntary donations”, fundraising and foreign fee-payers) has increased significantly under the Labour government


1999 2005
Primary (per child) $301 $474
Secondary (per child) $750 $987

• From 1995 to 2004 government funding of schools rose by 36.7% in real terms while local funding increased by a gross amount of 88.7%

• The government review of the school Operations Grant is based on the current funding model which is seriously flawed by being based too heavily on student numbers rather than educational need.

• There have been large increases (300%) in support staff employed in schools since 1989 which have been paid from the Operations Grant and locally raised funds. There is no specific government funding to support these staff increases.

• Operations Grant increases have borne no relation to inflation. The increase announced in 2006 was 2.3% while inflation is running at 3.5% – 4.0%

• Schools are facing large financial pressures from parent expectations while costs of such things as support staff and ICT have mushroomed.

• Boards have had to meet 100% of the costs of ICT (computers etc) until recent times, and even now, 75% is paid by schools/parents and only 25% is paid by government funding. Some of this 25% is of an “in-kind” nature. (eg. Microsoft deal for schools to access software)

• Research shows that the ability of schools to raise funds by way of school donations has plateaued.

• Many schools now report that parents are resisting paying school “donations”.

• Extra community pressures are now on schools with the expectation for “personalised learning” for students. This generates huge pressure on staff to become “super-teachers”.

• Special needs funding has decreased by 3.49% from 2001 to 2006.

• There is research evidence that suggests that many schools cannot support existing programmes on Operations Grant funding alone.

• There is research that suggests that schools are having to make trade offs that impact on student learning in order to make ends meet.

• There is evidence to suggest that despite the additional funding received by schools in low income communities from the government they are still well behind schools in high income communities in available per student funding.

ends

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