Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Caution around funding proposal

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John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh.
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh.

A new system that could see school deciles scrapped has been deemed a good idea by local educators but there are problems that need to be fixed before it is considered an option, two principals say.

The Ministry of Education has considered using Government-wide data on every preschooler and school student to peg extra funding to those at risk of educational underachievement.

Schools would be paid more for students who had one of four risk factors: 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.

Rotorua Primary School Principals' Association president and Ngakuru School principal Grant Henderson said it was the "finer details that would trip the idea up".

 Grant Henderson.
Grant Henderson.

"I think it's great the Minister has acknowledged the need to discuss how we fund New Zealand schools as the decile system isn't quite meeting that pinnacle of providing a world class education system.

"There are some concerns with this new funding suggestion, like how schools will have access to a child's private information and how the over-arching criteria will be determined but I'm glad we're having these discussions and I'll be waiting to see the other funding ideas being explored."

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said conceptually the idea was good, but "careful thought will have to go into determining criteria for funding".

 Education Minister Hekia Parata
Education Minister Hekia Parata

"I think it's a good idea but I don't know how it is going to work with deciding and then monitoring those risk factors.

"Another issue to be considered is that there is a whole lot of groups not mentioned in this initial idea that could put their hands up and say their situations impact education outcomes. The idea makes no mention of refugee children or special needs students.

"Conceptually it's a good idea but careful thought will have to go into making the criteria."

Asked whether a targeted approach could stigmatise children, Education Minister Hekia Parata said those were the kinds of issues that would need to be worked through, but that outcome would not be allowed.

Last year, Ms Parata commissioned three "think pieces"on alternative ways to fund schools. They have not been made public.

Additional reporting by NZ Herald

- Rotorua Daily Post

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