Media release: Decile funding review must consider teacher quality

16 April, 2015

Wellington (16 April 2015): The New Zealand Initiative has welcomed a review of the controversial decile funding system for schools, reported by the Sunday Star Times last weekend. Minister of Education Hekia Parata announced the government will review how it targets educational resources.

The decile system was set up 20 years ago to provide more funding to schools serving students from poorer families. The review has been prompted by concerns that low decile ratings stigmatise schools.

The New Zealand Initiative urges the review to consider not only school funding but the ability of low decile schools to attract good teachers.   

Research Fellow Rose Patterson says: “Within schools, there is nothing more important than the quality of teachers. Unfortunately, our system does not direct the best teachers to the children who need them the most.”   

The think tank says decile funding makes up about 13% of school operational funding. However, when teacher salaries are included, decile funding accounts for only 3% of school funding.

“Teachers are generally paid the same regardless of decile. However better teachers might be attracted by better working conditions and leadership in higher decile schools. If poorer kids then have less access to good teachers, that would be a real concern” says Patterson.

The think tank says the review is an opportunity for a comprehensive analysis of the decile system. It says the review should include an investigation of whether higher decile schools are more able to attract highly skilled teachers, principals, and boards of trustees.


About the New Zealand Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative is an evidence-based think tank and research institute, which is supported by a membership organisation that counts some of the country’s leading visionaries, business leaders and political thinkers among its ranks.
Our members are committed to developing policies to make New Zealand a better country for all its citizens. We believe all New Zealanders deserve a world-class education system, affordable housing, a healthy environment, sound public finances and a stable currency.
The New Zealand Initiative pursues this goal by participating in public life, and making a contribution to public discussions.
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