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Isolated schools get funding increase

Isolated schools get funding increase

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced that annual funding for 560 isolated rural schools is to increase by 12 per cent to nearly $8 million a year, to ensure the schools and their students are not disadvantaged due to location.

“The Labour-led government strongly believes in a fair go for everyone and that's why we are intent on making sure children in isolated areas get the same educational opportunities as kids elsewhere.

"Because of their distance from population centres, these schools are eligible for an extra component of schools’ operational funding called Targeted Funding for Isolation (TFI).

"The 12.5 per cent adjustment to TFI rates from January next year will allow schools to better meet the costs associated with operating a school in an isolated environment,” Trevor Mallard said.

“This increase builds on the 2005 annual adjustment to schools’ operational funding which I announced as part of this year's Budget. In total, TFI rates will increase by 15.25 per cent in the 2005 school year.

"That brings the total annual funding for TFI close to $8 million. Schools eligible for TFI will be advised of the impact of the increase on their funding early in the new year.

"This funding increase is on top of several other government initiatives aimed at making sure rural children can access the same educational opportunities as students in urban areas," Trevor Mallard said.

"For instance, last week I announced new funding of $19.7 million over four years to give area schools which are mainly in rural locations, more teachers, extra salary funding to help recruit and retain staff, and increased operational funding from next year.

"Rural schools are also provided with additional in-kind resourcing through initiatives such as School Administration Support Clusters, centrally-funded professional development and Project PROBE - the rollout of high speed internet access to regions throughout New Zealand. They also get funding help to recruit and retain staff," Trevor Mallard said.

The list of government initiatives for education in rural areas is attached.

Key Fact Sheet - initiatives and support for education rural areas

Annual funding for 560 isolated rural schools is to increase by 12.5 per cent to nearly $8 million a year through Targeted Funding for Isolation, a component of the operations grant.

New funding of $19.7 million over four years has been allocated to give area schools more teachers, extra salary units to help recruit and retain staff, and increased operational funding from 2005.

$48 million has been allocated to project PROBE, through which high-speed internet access for all schools and their communities in regional New Zealand will be rolled out by mid-2005.

Funding is available to secondary teacher education providers to encourage placement of student teachers in isolated schools. The aim of this funding is to increase the number of teacher graduates interested in teaching in these schools.

Allowances are available to teachers in schools that are likely to have difficulty recruiting staff, such as rural or isolated schools. The Priority Teacher Supply Allowance is available to teachers in decile one and two primary schools in certain areas ($15 million over four years). The High Priority Teacher Supply Allowance ($6.5 million over four years) is available to secondary teachers in certain areas. Schools in isolated areas may also apply for Staffing Incentive Status, which qualifies their teachers for the Staffing Incentive Allowance ($3 million over four years).

National relocation grants of $3000 available to teachers to work in high priority areas, many of which are rural areas.

National recruitment allowance of $2500 for schools that have priority recruiting status when they take on a teacher who has received the relocation grant.

A free video conferencing bridge service for all schools, used primarily by rural schools, costing $2.7 million over four years.

Government is also funding contracts for the provision of professional learning and support through School Support Services and other providers across all regions. This means that teachers and principals in rural schools can be involved in longer term, in-depth professional learning programmes that have a lasting impact on teachers and students.

School Administration Support Clusters is a successful scheme that helps small schools, mainly in isolated areas, work together to improve their administrative efficiency, freeing up time to enable teaching principals to focus on leadership and teaching and for boards to focus on governance.

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