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Equity funding announcement is great news for everyone

The New Zealand School Trustees Association is delighted with Minister Hipkins’ announcement that the new Equity Index to replace school deciles could be implemented as early as 2021.

The Minister also notes that other strategies need to be used alongside the equity funding provided to schools, and that the level of equity funding needs to be at least double the current levels. Equity funding is provided to help students with challenges in their social circumstances keep pace with others from more privileged circumstances.

In the Cabinet Paper released yesterday Minister Hipkins advised Cabinet that the present level of equity funding "is not providing sufficient additional resourcing to those schools that need it most", and that the comparable level in other countries is around 6% to16%.

Equity funding is currently calculated according to which 10% band a school neighbourhood falls into on a scale of poverty to privilege (the decile system). This is currently just under 3% of the funding school boards of trustees receive for the day-to-day running of the school. Boards then allocate this funding in consultation with the principal, through the school’s operational budget.

Bizarrely, school boards of trustees, who allocate and are accountable to government for effective use of the school’s operational grant, are not included in the list of key stakeholders to be consulted on how these changes to school funding will be implemented, but NZSTA President Lorraine Kerr says that she is giving the Minister the benefit of the doubt, and hoping that is just an oversight in the drafting process.

"So long as we’re included when the sector consultation starts," Ms Kerr says.

"We’ve all been waiting for this for a very long time. Let’s just focus on getting this off the ground and working for everyone -families, teachers, principals, boards of trustees, auditors, officials, government - but most importantly, our children."


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