28 Nov 2019

Auckland schools' higher funds creating disparity - Waikato principals

10:57 am on 28 November 2019

High-decile Auckland schools' superior fundraising ability is creating a gap with the rest of the country, principals south of the Bombay Hills say.

High school students on their way home, teenagers.

Auckland's high decile primary schools received $276 per student in donations last year, $90 more than the average for similar schools and the rest of the country. Photo: 123RF

Fees from foreign students and donations are boosting the coffers of already well-heeled Auckland schools by as much 40 percent more than similar schools in other parts of the country.

Auckland's high-decile primary schools received $276 per student in donations last year, $90 more than the average for similar schools and the rest of the country.

A little further south in Waikato, the average take for high decile schools was $139 and Hamish Fenimore from the region's Primary Principal's Association said many asked for a lot less than that.

"Most of us would be looking around $80 to $100 per student donation in the course of the year. We're finding that if we put them any higher than that we're getting a lot more pushback from the community around that. So we are a lot lower than what you were seeing in the figures and Auckland."

He said high decile schools were especially dependent on the money they could raise from private sources.

"Certainly in the climate that we're in at the moment - especially for the higher decile schools, eight nine and 10 - that money coming into the school makes a huge difference and for those high decile schools, we've been running on the smell of an oily rag for a long time now and we're not seeing that increase in the operational funding, which is in turn going to impact on the quality of the delivery that we're able to offer."

President of the Principal's Federation, Whetu Cormick, said the gap between Auckland's and the rest of the country was not a problem, but it did raise questions about fairness.

"Clearly if high decile schools in Auckland are receiving higher levels of funding then they are able to offer extra learning activities to the young students. And in some instances, those schools will be able to afford to employ more teachers. One would ask the question, are their some inequities in this?"

Phil Holstein from the Canterbury West Coast Secondary Principal's Association said the figures highlighted the differences and the opportunities schools and different regions could provide.

"Ultimately, we'd like to think all schools can provide the quality provision of an education across our country, wherever you are. Sadly, that isn't the reality. All schools are trying in some ways because we recognise with extra resourcing we can provide a richer curriculum. But some schools, some locations have advantages more than others."

He said Auckland schools found it a lot easier to attract foreign students because of their city size and location.

"And yes we all envy that if schools want to go down that way. Auckland schools are picking up the advantage that they have and saying 'hey, this is a way to generate additional income to provide a ... a richer curriculum."

The difference between Auckland schools and those in the rest of New Zealand did matter in terms of equity, but there was not much schools could do about it, Mr Holstein said.

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