Principals back end to decile system

By Anna Whyte, Sonya Bateson

1 comment
Graeme Lind, principal of Greenpark School.
Graeme Lind, principal of Greenpark School.

Plans to scrap the school decile system have been met with open arms by Bay of Plenty principals.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has appointed an advisory group of sector heavyweights to "consider possible changes to education funding systems".

The move comes after it was revealed this year that a radical shakeup was on the cards to replace the decile rating system, which increases funding for schools at the bottom end.

It is totally unfair when people use the rating to determine how good a school is. We should really be looking at academic progress.
Graeme Lind, principal of Greenpark School

The plan would use government data on preschoolers and school pupils and attach funding to those at risk of under-achievement in the classroom.

Greenpark School principal Graeme Lind said it would depend on how schools would be funded.

"If they're just going to tinkle with the funding formula, I don't believe any school should be worse off than they currently are."

He said he thought the term 'decile' could be dropped.

"It is totally unfair when people use the rating to determine how good a school is.

"We should really be looking at academic progress. I know there are a number of low decile schools who perform extremely well with academic progress," Mr Lind said.

Mr Lind said if there was to be a complete overhaul, the Government should be generous in their base allowances to schools, then fund them according to need.

"I mean the needs of the students, because some schools have a higher proportion of students that require additional support and assistance."

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell said the decile rating system did not seem to address learning needs at school.

"I'd love to see it address the learning needs and the equity... but how you practically do that in a school of 2000 would be very difficult."

He said the decile ratings were a "very generalised system trying to do its best".

"It's time to have a look at a system developed in 1989," Mr Randell said.

He said there needed to be a system which gave "equal opportunities for all our young kids, and address those with learning difficulties".

Gate Pa School principal Richard Inder said he would "totally agree" with updating the current decile system.

"If the new system genuinely supports those children in need, let's look at that optimistically," he said.

He said the system "needs to be reviewed and refined", but wanted to know more details on what it would be replaced with.

"Across all schools there are children in need ... those children are sadly under-resourced and schools struggle to support these children. These are all schools not just decile one, two and three," Mr Inder said.

Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti said she was pleased there would be a review and wide consultation, but said any proposed change should still link funding with needs.

"As far as the decile system is concerned, there has to be some level of equity funding.

"For me, I would be lost without the funding that comes in with a decile one school," she said.

- Additional reporting from Jimmy Ellingham

Ranking system:

* A decile rating is the measure of the socio-economic position of the school's student community. It is relative to the other schools across New Zealand. They are used to provide funding to schools. The lower a school's decile rating, the higher the received funding.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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