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Government must address decile divide

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Media Release

26 November 2004

Government must address decile divide

Results from the Secondary Schools’ 2003 National Survey provide clear evidence of the need to address the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots in secondary education, according to the PPTA.

PPTA president Phil Smith said the survey showed that decile one and decile 10 schools were worlds apart. “Decile 10 schools have a decided advantage because of the socio-economic status of the parents of the students who attend them.

“They have better resources, parents are more likely to be involved and students are likely to have better opportunities to learn because behaviour and discipline issue are less likely to be distractions.

“On the contrary, lower decile schools struggle to attract suitably qualified staff, parents are less likely to be involved and the schools have higher numbers of transient and boomerang students which can impact on learning.”

Mr Smith said that although all schools struggled to make ends meet financially, high decile schools were more likely to be able to raise funds from international student fees, donations, grants and sponsorship to make up for shortfalls.

“Clearly the Government has an obligation to ensure that low decile schools are schools that parents and teachers can have confidence in. This survey shows that the Government is not putting enough money into lower decile schools to make them schools of choice.”

Mr Smith said PPTA wanted the Government to review how schools were funded and among its proposals was that the Ministry of Education undertake an independent investigation into the true funding needs of schools, establish a “Red Tape” commission to reduce schools’ compliance costs and develop a needs-based index on which to base future government grants.

“A review must address not only the extra costs that schools have had to cope with in the last few years but also the gap between the education that the ‘have’ schools can provide and what the ‘have not’ schools can provide.”

Mr Smith said the survey’s findings on teacher morale reflected one of the worst aspects of Tomorrow’s Schools – managerialism, and the tendency to exclude teachers from significant professional involvement in school decision-making. “It is hardly surprising that teachers who are involved in school decision-making are more positive than those who are not,” he said.

Ends

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