Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Teachers hail reaction to funding proposal

Angela Roberts congratulated the Education Council for appearing to take a stand against the ministry's proposal for global funding. Photo / John Stone
Angela Roberts congratulated the Education Council for appearing to take a stand against the ministry's proposal for global funding. Photo / John Stone

Teachers' body the Education Council appears to be opposing the Education Ministry's proposal to shake up the school funding system - a move detractors are calling bulk funding by stealth.

The proposal to introduce a "global" funding system, announced last month, immediately copped criticism from the secondary schools union.

Now, a council newsletter is being hailed by the Post Primary Teachers Association as the council's first act of defiance against the ministry.

Under the global salaries system, one pool of funding would be allotted to schools to to cover all resources. Currently, there is a minimum number of teachers required at each school.

Teaching unions say the global model will undermine teaching quality as principals and boards would be forced to pit the cost of teachers against other resource needs such as repairs or guidance counsellors.

The new system proposal was addressed in the most recent edition of the council's weekly newsletter, the Highlighter.

"Many of you may know the way in which we fund schools, kura and centres to operate is under review," the newsletter read. "The Education Council's position is that any review of the funding model must be fair, transparent and firmly focused on getting the best for students."

In the letter, the council listed principles it believed the new model should support, including "maintaining or increasing the ratio of qualified to non-qualified ECE teachers" and "enabling principals and other leadership roles in the school to focus on the leadership of learning."

It said it did not support "trade-offs being made by boards or ECE providers between funding certificated teachers and either unqualified teachers, or other non-teaching resources".

This type of trade off is exactly the type of situation PPTA president Angela Roberts said principals and boards would find themselves having to make.

"They're robbing Peter to pay Paul," she said. "The ministry is going out to the communities and teachers and saying to them this isn't bulk funding - but it is. And what an insult to think they give it another name and a model that was clearly rejected 20 years ago can be slipped through the gate."

Teachers and parents rejected bulk funding, protesting its proposal until the plan was scrapped in 2000.

Roberts congratulated the Education Council for appearing to take a stand against the ministry's proposal for global funding.

"We've been very public in our concerns that with the minister having appointed the members of the council, we were worried there may be a perception that they may not be able to freely and frankly stand up for the profession publicly if what they believe is counter to what the minister is advocating. It's great to see them stand up for the profession."

When approached for comment by the Weekend Herald, an Education Council spokeswoman would not answer direct questions about the council's position on the proposal, saying it was "still in the principle stages" of development.

"Our statement reflects what we believe is important to teachers and important for any funding proposal to successfully support all learners to reach their potential," she said. "We would like to encourage open debate about how any future proposal measures up against these principles. We have reviewed the international evidence and these are the principles that we believe are important."

Education Minister Hekia Parata said no decisions about the new system had yet been made.

"The funding review is exploring how the education funding systems could be improved so that the right resources get to the right kids, in the right amount and at the right time," she said.

"There are a number of proposed directions for change up for discussion with an advisory group and the wider education sector over the coming months. Bulk funding is not one of them."

- NZ Herald

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