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Mallard Misses the Point over School Funding

Mallard Misses the Point over School Funding

Minister of Education Trevor Mallard’s announcement yesterday of his intention to remove the ethnic element from decile based funding for schools misses the point.

QPEC would support its removal provided there was a comprehensive appraisal of school funding mechanisms to focus on “needs-based” funding. This is not on the cards and his announcement appears to be a sop to prejudice rather than a forward looking change aimed to improve student achievement.

The Minister says he would prefer to focus on teacher development rather than extra funding for schools in addressing underachievement of Maori and Pacifica children. However he bases this approach largely on literacy research from South Auckland schools which has been comprehensively debunked by respected educators.

This means that as it stands Maori and Pacifica children are over-represented in educational underachievement with no effective government programme to address this.

Poverty remains the critical factor in student underachievement but the present decile-based funding mechanism is crude and outdated. A move to a modern “needs based” funding mechanism is long overdue.

Under “needs-based” funding a school would receive funding based on the amount required to provide a high quality education to all its students. This would mean quantitative measurements of actual barriers to student achievement and funding for these. Two examples include - School transience – (400 children change schools every Monday morning in South Auckland with no recognition in school funding) Moderate special needs – the special education grant is bulk funded to schools irrespective of the number of children with moderate special education needs attending

If the actual barriers to student achievement were addressed then schools in low income communities would receive huge funding boosts and would be able to provide the equal opportunity for every student the government claims it supports.

John Minto National Chairperson

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