Teachers unaware decile system close to being sacked - NZEI

News a new school funding system could be signed off in the next few weeks has taken teachers by surprise.

On Tuesday, outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata said she wants to get the Predictive Risk Index model through Cabinet before she retires from the role.

Presently schools are funded depending on their decile rating - one to 10 - which is based on the socio-economic status of their neighbourhood. The new system will track individual at-risk students and then use that information to target funding directly to schools.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart says they've been working with the Government on a replacement for the decile system, and were taken aback by Tuesday's revelations.

"Decisions around a new model to replace deciles need to be based on what's best for children, not about fitting in with political timetables," said Ms Stuart.

"The Government had agreed to work with the profession in order to get these changes right."

She said the proposed new model "raises huge privacy concerns", which Labour also sees.

"We accept there was something to be analysed there around how we could move to a funding formula that didn't [stigmatise schools]. But now we risk not just stigmatising a school, but stigmatising individual children," Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show on Thursday.

"The ministry's argued that information is not going to be used to identify individual children, but we can't guarantee that. We were told the same thing around league tables when National Standards were brought in. It took one OIA for those league tables to be produced."

Hekia Parata (Simon Wong/Newshub.)
Hekia Parata (Simon Wong/Newshub.)

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, also appearing on The AM Show said Ms Ardern was "not right on this one".

"You're purely using the data to decide the funding, not actually around the individual kids. There's no real risk of that."

Ms Bennett says the current decile system is "just wrong". Over the past 15 years it's been blamed for "white flight" - the number of Pakeha kids at low-decile schools dropping markedly, with parents wrongly believing the decile number is a quality indicator.

"Schools can be almost wrongly deciled, so they've got some wealthy homes around them and as a consequence of that miss out on funding," says Ms Bennett.

Prime Minister Bill English hasn't been so bullish on the new model's implementation, saying he'd like it signed off before the election in September.

Ms Parata's last day as Education Minister will be April 30. Nikki Kaye will be her successor.