Larry Williams: Changes to decile system long overdue

Listen to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB, 4pm to 7pm. Today he looks at a proposal to shake-up the decile system.
Image / iStock
Image / iStock

The Government is looking to scrap the decile system and fund schools according to the students' "risk of failure".

This is long overdue. The decile system is broad brush so it makes sense to target funding those most at risk of failure.

The risk factors are obvious; a parent who had been to prison, if they or a sibling had suffered child abuse, if their family had relied on a benefit for a prolonged period, or if the child's mother had no formal qualifications.

READ MORE: Allan Vester: Decile shake-up must have funding review

The Government is simply in the evaluation phase on this. They are looking at ideas, because clearly, there are too many basket case kids, and this comes at great cost to society. The plan looks to front-foot the issue. Whether its effective is another matter.

In some cases these kids come from dysfunctional families so it's no easy fix.

Getting all stakeholders on board, particularly the teacher unions may be difficult, but we have an obligation to give these children a better chance.

We already have the scaremonger-type claim that funding to at-risk children will create privacy concerns, including whether parents should be informed their child is at risk of failure, and whether it will stigmatise those children.

It's idiotic to suggest the Government's intention is tantamount to putting a sticky label on the head of children at risk, as implied by Labour's Chris Hipkins.

Let me tell you a lot of those kids are already stigmatised - thanks to dopey parents.

The plan to target at-risk children has merit, and all these ideas are worth exploring, but how does this address one of the core issues - the child's dysfunctional parents?

Research reveals one of the key contributors to youth crime is lack of parental supervision and parental antisocial behaviour, including substance abuse, violence and criminal activity.

It's the kids going home to toxic households that is the worry. In such places, all the extra education in the world can be undone in a heartbeat.

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