I was listening to the news the other day and the Education Minister said her new approach to resourcing schools was not bulk funding but you guys say that it is. So, when is bulk funding not bulk funding?
When the Minister calls it something else.
But WHY is she calling it something else?
Well, in this month’s semantic challenge, the Honourable Hekia Parata has presented a ‘global budget’ to schools as the ointment for ensuring students ‘most at risk’ get the resourcing they need - without breaking the bank (it’s the same gross amount in the system just spread a little differently).
And she’s saying that it will be “needs based”?
Part of it will be. Instead of the students in different schools getting a decile weighted amount, students will all have a fixed amount (as a voucher) and a targeted few will get some extra (voucher plus). Those schools with a big enough concentration of these needy students may even get as much funding as they do currently.
Hang on. I thought it was a good thing for targeted students to get more?
It could be – if it was sufficient. But in this year’s budget the amount set aside for these sorts of students was around $80 per student for the whole year. And some schools will probably get quite a bit less than they do now under the decile system – basically we don’t know what criteria will be used to identify additional need but it’s likely to be pretty narrow and resourced from part of the savings in removing the decile weighting.
That’s not exactly going to be a panacea is it? I thought the Minister said this would allow schools to be “more flexible”?
I guess you could say there were some new flexibilities. Sadly, the rub is that while the Minister’s plan ring fences money to maintain Ministry owned buildings it does not do the same to ensure that the best teachers are in front of students in small classes with additional support where it’s needed. Instead, those schools will be directed to tighten their belts and enticed to make staffing a movable feast.
So, staffing will be more flexible? Where will the rest of the money to ‘address need’ come from?
In Hekia’s ‘global budget’ salaries are bulk funded. That is, schools will be empowered to cash up staffing to find money for other operational costs. Unfortunately, this will likely mean increased class sizes and more precarious ‘fixed term’ positions, while schools hedge their bets over how much money they need for a new initiative or purchase.
But she tried increasing class sizes with Lesley Longstone! Everyone knows it’s a terrible idea….Won’t schools just keep small classes?
Some might. But when the amount of money they have to go round is insufficient, staffing is really the only movable part in the proposed model (unless you have lots of parent donations or international students. ie you’re currently a large high decile school). Meanwhile, John Hattie can be wheeled out as the silver bullet to real teachers’ knowledge that the more kids in your class the less ‘one on one learning’.
Hekia’s ointment is starting to smell a little sour. What else is wrong with her proposal?
Well, the vouchers for students (or a proportion of them) will apply to private school students too, meaning some of the education budget saved by removing the decile weighting will go into private businesses.
That doesn’t sound fair. Will the same voucher apply to those Charter schools?
Probably not. While they do get a huge amount more per capita than kids in state schools, the funding is probably locked into their contracts (and without offering the tiny class sizes they do their grades might not be able to appear as impressive – the Minister won’t want that to happen).
But, if I’m understanding you right a lot of previously lower decile schools will get less money and may have to increase their class sizes, private schools will get more and charters will still get the most. That can’t be right can it? The Minister said this proposal was more equitable!
How can that be?
Because she says it is.