Schools that lost students in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake will not have their funding cut before the end of the year, the Government has confirmed.

More than 10,000 students enrolled at other schools around the country in the weeks after the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on February 22.

So far, only 4060 students have returned, while 992 have moved within the city and 5103 are still enrolled in schools around New Zealand.

Christchurch principals told the Herald they feared losing funding at the end of July because of the drop off in student numbers.

But Earthquake recovery minister Gerry Brownlee and education minister Anne Tolley this afternoon announced operational funding for the schools would continue at pre-earthquake levels until the end of 2011.

"This will provide certainty and stability for schools in Christchurch," Mr Brownlee said.

"It means schools in Christchurch will continue to receive full funding for the number of pupils they had before February's earthquake."

Double-funding would continue for schools around the country that had taken in evacuated Christchurch students, Ms Tolley said.

David O'Neill, principal of St Mary's School in Riccarton, said the funding guarantee was welcome news in a difficult year.

His school had 107 students before the earthquake. Today there are 89.

He had been faced with "severely" trimming its budget after July, with cutbacks predicted to hit support staff and special education.

"I'm going to have to change my principal's report to the Board of Trustees. It was talking about the need to tighten our belts and cut back on some things."

But he said his biggest worry was still the possibility of cuts to teacher numbers, which are only guaranteed until the end of this year.

Based on the number of pupils now at his school, he will lose funding for one of his five teachers in 2012.

He called on Government to allocate further funding to ensure schools in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch can retain their staff.

"This is a great start but how about going one further and putting the icing on the cake.

"I can be creative, make cuts to budgets. We can tighten our belts. But when you're losing a teacher, that's hard."

New Zealand Educational Institute president Ian Leckie said staffing entitlements were based on the previous year's roll, so many schools faced losing teachers if their rolls did not increase in the next few months.

He urged the Government to think long term and retain staff and resources, such as classroom buildings, until at least the end of next year as he believed the rolls would eventually grow again.