Govt considers decile system change

Govt considers decile system change

By Sarah Robson

Funding schools based on students' individual risk of under-achievement is one of the options on the table as the Government considers a shake-up of the decile system.

The Ministry of Education is looking at using sophisticated new data to allocate extra funding to those schools with students who are deemed to be at risk.

Schools would get more money for students who had at least one of four risk factors: a parent who had been to prison, if they or a sibling had suffered child abuse, if their family had relied on a benefit for a prolonged period, or if the child's mother had no formal education.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the review of the funding system is still in its early stages, but "no option is off the table".

"We've got a lot more data now than we did when the decile system was introduced 15 years ago and we need to take advantage of that, but we haven't yet decided on what model by any stretch of the imagination," she told reporters today.

"We want to make sure that instead of kids going on to the justice system, rather than being successful in the education system, how do we get the right amount of resource to the right kids at the right time and the right amount to make a difference?"

Ms Parata has described the decile system as "very blunt" and says many in the education sector want something better.

But Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins warns the Government needs to tread carefully if it does progress a funding model based on at-risk children.

"I think it could potentially create more inequalities and more inequities if it's poorly designed," he said.

While Mr Hipkins agrees the decile system needs to change, labelling students as at-risk could be "very, very unhelpful".

"One of the risks with an even more targeted approach than decile funding is that you actually move the stigma away from the school and you place that stigma on that individual child and I think that could be really, really damaging," he said.

The decile system rates schools from 1 to 10 based on the socio-economic make-up of the communities their students come from.

Schools with students from poorer neighbourhoods get more Government funding, while those in richer areas get less.

The next review of decile ratings isn't due to happen until 2019.