Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Big windfall for some schools and nothing for others as new funding revealed

Education Minister Hekia Parata is overseeing big changes to school funding. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Education Minister Hekia Parata is overseeing big changes to school funding. Photo / Dean Purcell.

A radical new funding mechanism for schools will deliver an extra $109,000 for one school and nothing for others.

Schools will today learn how much extra funding they will get as a result of having students "at risk" of educational underachievement enrolled.

The vast majority will receive some extra money, ranging from a few hundred dollars to $109,000. Those that get nothing are likely to be schools with smaller rolls.

But while the total amount will be revealed, the names of students who have been identified as needing extra support will not.

The new funding mechanism was introduced as part of this year's Budget.

Schools operations funding, which greatly affect resources and day-to-day operations, normally keeps pace with inflation.

That did not happen this year. Each school will get the same as it got last year but the money that would normally help cover inflation, $12.3 million, will be split between schools that have some of the 133,171 students judged to be at risk - schools will get about $92 for each such student.

It will be up to schools as to how they spend the extra money.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the new funding on its own would not be a silver bullet.

But it was more targeted than the $16 per student increase had the operations funding been increased by 1 per cent.

"Some schools will receive a few hundred dollars whilst others are getting up to $57,000 with one exception receiving the most at $109,000, reflecting the challenges their students face."

Every school in Waikato, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupo will get extra funding from Term 1 next year.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said the increases detailed today were simply not enough to help schools do the best for at risk students.

"An equity funding approach that includes funding specifically for extra teaching and support staff, as well as operational funding, is most likely to lift achievement. The PPTA believes the government should... prioritise this approach.

"An increase in equity funding must be new money. There is no fat in the system, so shuffling budgets from one school to another is not a solution."

Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said the "hyper targeting" would miss many students that needed extra help.

"This is a Government doing the bare minimum that they can do to maintain education standards, but this is woefully short."

The at risk students are identified by the Ministry of Social Development using a powerful anonymised database.

It is part of wider "social investment" being championed by Finance Minister Bill English. Its aim is to share data across government agencies to identify and map New Zealanders at risk of poor outcomes later in life.

The aim is to then target support accordingly.

The at risk targeted funding is not a replacement for decile funding.

However, a sector review team are looking at possible alternatives to the decile system, which Parata has said needs to go.

It is likely the at risk model could be extended to eventually replace the decile system.

- NZ Herald

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