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Govt warned on targeted school funding

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/07/2016

The government was warned against bringing in targeted funding for schools based on the number of at-risk students they have ahead of the outcome of an education funding review, just-released Treasury documents reveal.

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced in this year's budget that just over $43 million of operating funding over the next four years would be allocated to schools based on a new targeted approach.

Using anonymised data from the Ministry of Social Development, schools with children who had spent a significant proportion of their lives in welfare-dependent families would be identified.

Schools would then be allocated funding based on how many at-risk students there are on their roll.

But Treasury didn't include the initiative in its recommended budget package.

In a report to Finance Minister Bill English in February, Treasury said it would be important that any proposed measure aligned well with the potential direction of the ongoing education funding review.

"While the initiative could potentially provide a useful signal of the proposed direction, there is also a risk that it could cut across specific options that may be considered as part of the review," the Treasury report said.

In a subsequent briefing to Mr English and the associate finance ministers Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett, Treasury said the decision to introduce a new targeting mechanism might be better made once progress had been made on the funding review.

"A key judgment is whether agreeing this change would be interpreted by the sector as the government pre-empting the outcome of the review, or just signalling its commitment to change."

The $43m targeted funding boost is instead of an across-the-board increase to school operational grants.

It aims to help about 150,000 children.

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