OPINION: School donation policy another broken promise

In the Government’s recent budget they announced the removal of school donations for all decile 1-7 schools.

Whilst National has supported this Bill to Select Committee as we believe it is important to reduce costs for parents where possible, we have major concerns about this policy.

Put simply, this policy is a broken promise and simply does not do what Labour said they would.

Labour went to the election saying that they would remove school donations for all schools, however this policy only benefits schools with decile ratings of 1-7 meaning many schools and parents in Pakuranga will not benefit from this policy as 9 of our 21 schools have decile ratings of 8 or above.

While this policy has disappointed many parents and schools who were led to believe donations would be scrapped altogether, it also highlights the inequity in our decile system as a means for funding our schools.

As many schools have said in submissions to Parliament, high decile schools are also home to students from disadvantaged families who do not benefit from this policy.

National believes that by locking out decile 8–10 schools, the Government is fostering inequity.

As Michael Williams, the Principal of Pakuranga College, notes in his submission, ‘At a time where schools are looking more and more to provide authentic learning experiences and to engage more with the world beyond the school gate, this bill could very well have the exact opposite effect.’

Steve Hargreaves, the Principal of Macleans College, said in a submission to Parliament, “The decision to offer Decile 1 to 7 schools an additional $150 payment… makes it clear that decile 8 to 10 schools are expected to make up funding shortfalls from their students’ parents. This $150 payment further increases the difference in per student funding made to schools…”

National had proposed scrapping the decile system altogether due to huge inequities and discrimination. We had also proposed putting in additional funding for schools to compensate any changes this policy might mean to schools operational funding.

Labour has stalled this proposal, and leaving families in communities with higher decile rated schools being hit twice, with inequity from the stalled policy and by being excluded from the donation policy.

Resolving core funding issues is a fairer way of ensuring parents will be asked for donations, as this will mean extra resources are better targeted to support schools to lift achievement. No matter which way you look at it, this Government has shown yet again that we cannot trust it will do what it says or tackle the hard issues.

  • Simeon Brown MP for Pakuranga

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