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English misleads on funding

13 October 2004

English misleads on funding

"Bill English continues to criticise government funding of schools but refuses to put his money where his mouth is," Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"Has National promised to increase funding to schools? No. Will Bill English promise to increase funding if he is asked? No.

"Is he making up figures in relation to government funding? Yes.

"Mr English is deliberately using selected figures that ignore 75 per cent of government funding that schools receive. Operational grant funding is only 24.9 per cent of government funding for schools.

"Since 1999 this government has increased funding in schools by 20 per cent to $4.1 billion in 2004/05.

"In 2003 as a percentage of schools' revenue, net locally raised funds (ie after taking out the costs of fundraising) equated to around 8.9 per cent of total government funding - nowhere near the 32 per cent that Mr English claims.

"Not only will Mr English not increase funding, he has actually promised publicly to scrap national professional development and curriculum support for schools. He wants to redirect that money into operational grants for boards of trustees to spend instead.

"I am not sure how Mr English thinks that boards of trustees can provide the same level of curriculum support or professional development that is provided currently in nationally co-ordinated programmes that involve thousands of teachers, benefiting thousands of students around New Zealand.

"That happened in the 1990s under the failed bulk-funding policy. Guess what else happened then - almost no professional development at all.

"Proper analysis of financial data does not support his claims that schools are relying to a greater extent on locally raised funds. As a percentage of total revenue, locally raised funds revenue has increased only slightly (2.5 per cent between 1995 and 2002) and is starting to plateau.

"And what's more, the increase in locally raised funds has also been proportional to increases in other revenue components," Trevor Mallard said.


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