Media outlets hammered a particular news story recently describing a Labour Party announcement that the Government had cut funding per student in the past year.

Specifically, Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins contends the total funding per student to schools fell from $7195 to $7046 last year, a drop of $150 per student, according to the Ministry of Education.

The minister, Hekia Parata, has countered that suggestion by saying the Government is putting more money, overall, into education than previously.

As schools absorb more students, their funding increases per student, plus a school is entitled to funding for another teacher once they achieve certain student numbers.


What disturbs me is we seem to have established an education culture in this country where we pare down the resources, and the money, to the point where yearly school donations are standard and recently graduated teachers struggle to find positions.

It is true that we don't have the same number of children in New Zealand as we did 40 years ago - hence schools with vacant classrooms - but I'm sure any school would say that the funding for another teacher, and a reshuffle of classes to smaller sizes as well as specialisation, would always be welcome.

But schools have to ask for money from parents - voluntary donations - to provide the National Standards education required.

They have to fundraise. Parents form parent-teacher associations and "friends of the school"groups to work up more money.

Some lucky schools have renowned galas or events that boost their coffers for another year.

If Hipkins is correct then it's not just about the funding cut.

It's a further demonstration of a culture of funding that forces schools to find other ways to finance themselves.

We put so much pressure on schools to try to fit children into the National Standards mould, plus keep them happy, safe, well adjusted, free from bullies and generally alive by the last school bell.


Are we giving them enough money and resources to do this?

The hell we are.

- Andrew Bonallack is editor of the Wairarapa Times-Age. Bruce Bisset will return next week.