More than 1300 schools will be worse off as a result of a radical new funding system, the Herald can reveal.

Critics argue the funding shake-up will hurt some schools and force parents to fork out more for their child's education. But the Government says it will target funding to those students who need the most help.

The Ministry of Education has confirmed how much money each school will get as a result of having at-risk students on their rolls.

Next year schools will get $92 in extra funding for each such student from a long-term welfare-dependent background.


The money is designed to close the gap in achievement between the top and bottom New Zealand children, and will be a substantial bonus for some schools - while also underlining the challenges they face.

For example, Hamilton's Fairfield Primary School has about 206 children getting the targeted funding - just short of 70 per cent of its total roll and a total of $19,000 extra.

But others, including Auckland Grammar, will get less than they would have received had the usual general increase to help cover inflation been adopted.

Rangitoto College, the largest school in the country, will get just over $18,000 in at-risk funding - despite having 10 times more students than Fairfield.

School operations funding, which greatly affects resources and day-to-day operations, normally keeps pace with anticipated inflation, and the ministry acknowledges a "strong expectation" in the sector for that to happen.

However, base operations funding will not be inflation-adjusted next year.

Instead, the only extra money will be split between schools that have some of the 133,000 students judged to be at-risk.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has said that funding represents a 1 per cent increase to the $1.35 billion in grants allocated to schools.

The targeted approach means more than 1300 schools will get less money than they would have received, had that money been used for a general increase.

The difference ranges from a few hundred dollars up to $24,000.

About 816 schools will get more, and information on a further 242 schools is suppressed for privacy reasons because fewer than five students are at-risk.

Labour says those figures are worse when each school's share is compared to what they would need to cover Treasury's Budget forecast of 1.5 per cent inflation.

It calculates 1894 schools will get a cut in real terms. Of those, 179 will receive a cut of more than $10,000.

Nearly 300 schools will get more money in real terms, with information unavailable on a further 242.

Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins said school budgets were already feeling the pinch and the at-risk funding model would worsen that - putting more pressure on parents.

"Schools will be forced to ask for more money in the form of donations and other fundraising."

Schools such as the Kelston Education Deaf Centre and the Rotorua School for Young Parents getting less funding than forecast inflation showed the targeting was too blunt, Hipkins said.

In response, Parata said operational grant increases had more than exceeded actual inflation since 2010, and next year increases would be targeted at children needing more support.

"From the beginning of the 2010 school year to the end of the 2015 school year CPI inflation was 9.6 per cent. The cumulative increase in the operations grant funding rates over this period was over 15 per cent."

Education Minister Hekia Parata has introduced a new funding model to target
Education Minister Hekia Parata has introduced a new funding model to target "at risk" students. Photo / John Stone

Parata said she was targeting the "at-risk" group because they had a higher risk of poor school results, but also of getting into trouble with the law and suffering poor physical and mental health.

"I'm surprised that Labour are so opposed to targeting funding to our most vulnerable children."

The amount of funding targeted to at-risk students is small - $12.3m.

However, it is being closely watched by the education sector because a version of targeted funding is likely to be a possible alternative when the decile system is scrapped from 2019 at the earliest.

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor said he favoured the funding review. The operational grant was now a small portion of the money used to run his school.

"As a state school the financial goodwill extended to the school from our parent community is what is core to maintaining our financial independence, with or without further cuts."

Allan Vester, chairman of the NZ Secondary Principals Council and head of Edgewater College in Pakuranga, said for many schools the change to operational funding next year would not be major.

"All schools believe they have unmet needs and not surprisingly some were unhappy with the [at-risk funding] change. In this current round the amounts were a very small percentage of total school funding."

At a glance

• Schools will get $92 per at-risk student on their roll.

• More than 1300 schools are set to get less money than they would otherwise have received under the shake-up. About 816 schools will get more, and information on a further 242 schools is suppressed for privacy reasons because fewer than five students are at-risk.

• Critics say the change will hurt more than 1300 schools and force parents to pay more for their child's education.

• Govt argues the new model will target those kids who need the most help.