3 Jul 2014

Labour plan to end parental donations

8:39 am on 3 July 2014

The Labour Party has announced it will abolish donations in most schools if it heads the next government after September's general election.

Leader David Cunliffe said on Wednesday it would pay schools $100 per student if they stop asking parents for donations.

Mr Cunliffe said school donations are especially hard on poor families, have become a contentious issue and the Government has a poor track record on education.

Donations are voluntary, but parents often complain of pressure to pay.

Labour said that would stop under its policy, which will particularly benefit the 1700 schools in deciles 1 to 7 and the families of their students.

It says schools are requesting donations that average $59 per student in decile 1 schools and $278 in decile 10 schools.

The policy does not affect activity fees, which schools charge to cover costs in some subjects.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said donations are for the extras communities want for their schools and Labour's policy will shift that cost to the taxpayer.

"They're not compulsory and, therefore, the extra things that parents have decided they want in that school. The proposal as I've seen it is simply shifting the burden to taxpayers across the country."

Ms Parata said schools receive enough funding from the Government to provide education.

Principals Federation president Philip Harding said the plan would disadvantage high-decile schools.

He said the policy was great news for lower-decile schools, but Labour needed to figure out a better option for schools in deciles 8 to 10.