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National schools policy takes us back to the 1990s

3 November 2008

National schools policy takes us back to the 1990s

National has waited till the last week of the election campaign to confirm its education policies will mark a return to policies it promoted in the darkest days of the 1990s.

· Increasing funding for private schools from $40 million to $70 million.

· Allowing "popular" schools to expand (almost always schools in high income communities as these will be ranked higher in national standards tests)

· Capital funding to focus on schools with "growing rolls" at the expense of other schools.

· Giving schools more control over their own property needs and over professional development. This is code for greater bulk funding of schools.

The increase in funding for private schools will bring government subsidies to Kings College (where John Key is a parent) to $2,836,265. This dramatic increase is from the current $1,620,723 which Kings College receives in 2008.

This money would be far better spent for New Zealand children where it is really needed. Overcoming the long tail of underachievement in education should be a higher priority but doesn't rate a mention in National's priorities.

Through the 1990s National funded new buildings and upgrades based on "roll growth". This meant flash new buildings at higher decile schools and crumbling buildings everywhere else.

This policy is linked to National's intention to allow the public ranking of primary schools through their results in testing for national standards. Schools which do well will be those in high income areas and they will be rewarded with roll growth and greater funding to follow.

This is a policy for Remuera at the expense of Otara.

Giving schools greater control over their own property needs and over professional development means the government will bulk fund this money to schools rather than meet the actual school expenses. Funding levels over time will be tightly controlled and, like the school operations grant which is similarly bulk funded, will result in less funding for schools from the government and higher school fees.

National's policy is the 1990s revisited.


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