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CE's Pen - Government must double equity funding for education

January 2019

New Zealand has one of the widest gaps in the world between our low and high-achievers.  In fact, data from international studies shows that New Zealand is less effective than almost any other OECD country in narrowing the achievement gap for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

That’s truly shocking for a country that used to pride itself on egalitarian values.  It’s also puzzling, given the thought and effort from so many people over many years to try to create more equitable outcomes.

Perhaps a partial explanation has just come to light. 

The Tomorrow's Schools Review Report which is out for consultation right now, reveals a telling statistic on page 29 -  apparently we put fewer resources into "supporting our students who come from disadvantaged homes" than other OECD countries, only 3% of school operational funding (including staffing costs) compared to 6% in "comparable jurisdictions". 

If we’re serious about creating a more inclusive society and ensuring every child and young person has what they need to thrive and contribute, we need to invest in equity to at least the level of other similar countries. That’s why COMET is calling on the Government to double the current level of equity funding.

Now is the perfect time to raise this issue, as the Government is beginning to share draft plans in response to the 2018 education consultations. 

All those high-minded, aspirational messages raised in the reviews need to be translated into plans and policies that will actually work in the real world to achieve the outcomes we all want to see.  Government can’t do that alone. They need feedback from educators, governors, researchers, employers, learners, families and communities on whether the proposals are likely to deliver the desired results and whether there are aspects that could have unintended negative consequences.

Already two draft action plans have come out of last year’s reviews – the Early Learning Strategy and the Tomorrow’s Schools Review Report.  Submissions are due by 15th March and 7th April respectively. 

I encourage you to read these documents and reflect on whether the proposals would make a difference for learners, especially those learners who are poorly-served by our education system. 

We are planning a stakeholder consultation in March to contribute to a combined submission on Tomorrow’s Schools, and you might also like to make your own submissions if you have yet to do so. 

Ngā mihi,  

Susan Warren

Chief Executive