‘Eventually decile system will go‘ – Education Minister

The flawed decile system will eventually go but not before finding a system that doesn‘t further stigmatise children, says the Minister of Education.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The system will stay in place while the government considers a new way of allocating money and staffing to schools.

The previous government had wanted to abandon the decile system in favour of a system that would allocate about $130 million-a-year to children with the highest needs, such as those with parents on benefits.

However, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said the previous government‘s proposal was not presented in a way that was ready to implement, and while it has some positive ideas, there were some things the minister was a bit concerned about.

“I think the risk is, if we move to another system that‘s based on per-child characteristics, then we potentially move the stigma from the schools to the individual children attending the school, so I just want to be very careful. I think eventually the decile systems will go, but as we do that we‘re not creating another set of stigmas that could be even more damaging.”

He said the previous government were going to continue to operate the decile side-by-side with the new system anyway.

“That‘s the only way they could have delivered on their commitment to ensure that no schools lost funding as a result.”

He said in this respect, his government is not doing anything the previous government wasn‘t going to do.

“Otherwise, you would end up with a situation where some schools would get significant reductions in funding and some schools would get significant increases in funding and that would all happen very suddenly. I wasn‘t willing to do that.”

In his cabinet paper, the Minister has renamed the risk index, the equity index.

“I don‘t want to see viewing kids as risks and unfortunately the previous government did see that, this was a risk management tool rather than an equity tool.”

He said the only part of the work done by the previous government, that he has rescinded, is the idea of moving to a single per-child funding rate that would collapse all other forms of funding.

“I think the decile system is flawed, we know that it creates a lot of stigma for schools and we do definitely want to be looking at how we can deliver school funding better in the future.”

The decile system in it‘s current state will be in place until at least 2020.