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Nat's plans for private school funds deplorable

14 April 2008

Media Release:

National Party plans for private school funding deplorable

It is deplorable for the John Key to propose increasing funding to private schools by 75% (from $40 million to $70 million annually)

Public schools are strapped for cash with parents paying ever increasing fees to support quality education while National is planning to add another layer of icing on the private school cake.

For example one of New Zealand wealthiest private schools, Kings College, already enjoys $2,000,000 per year in government funding. John Key would increase this to $3,500,000. However the educational needs are far greater at Otahuhu College on the other side of a wire mesh fence from Kings. Otahuhu College is a great school doing its utmost for a low income community but like all public schools it is struggling financially. The educational needs at Otahuhu are far greater than at Kings and yet under National policy its needs would come a distant second to those of the privileged elite who attend Kings.

John Key’s argument that government funding will make these private school more affordable for “middle New Zealand” is laughable. During National last term in office taxpayer funding for private schools rose from just $4.2 million in 1990 to almost $40 million by 2000. For example taxpayer funding for Kings College increased from $632,000 to $2,030,000 between 1994 and 2000 – a 220% increase while state schools were pegged back to increases which overall barely met the rate of inflation.

At the same time we are not aware of a single private school which reduced its fees over this period. Instead most of these schools simply used the extra funding to enhance their exclusivity.

QPEC believes private schools should only receive taxpayer funding if they open their doors to all young New Zealanders in the same way as public schools and drop their fees. This would make them truly accessible to all. Otherwise National is simply subsidising the school choices for the rich.

Less than 4% of New Zealand children attend private schools and yet they have become the first priority for National in its education policy release.

It’s a case of welfare for the wealthy.


ENDS

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