Education Funding System Review

Moving to a system wide focus on equity

The Government is expanding previous work on replacing deciles to look more broadly at how education resources might better support equity in schools, ngā kōhanga reo and early childhood education services, especially for learners from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

This work is part of the Government’s Education Work Programme which aims for a high quality, fair and inclusive education system that provides all New Zealanders with learning opportunities and prepares them for the future.

The shift to an equity focus, means that the former Risk Index will be further developed as an Equity Index. The Index can give valuable insights into the impact of disadvantage in early childhood education and schooling. For example, it shows that concentration of disadvantage matters for educational progress and achievement.

In addition, the Government has directed the Ministry of Education to use these insights to advise on how best to improve education settings and the targeting of resources for equity, in particular for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or with learning support needs.

Originally, the Index was to be used only for the 3% of total school funding that supports schools for disadvantage. Now, the government has asked the Ministry to explore its possible use across all education supports and resources, across schooling and early learning, to see if these can be better used to reduce disadvantage. For example, school staffing, or supports for student wellbeing, or educator professional learning and development, or the targeting of interventions.

The government will await the results of this work before making decisions on any new funding arrangements for schools and services to support improve equity. No decisions on any final funding arrangements will be made without consulting the sector, parents, whānau, school boards and communities.

Replacing deciles

The Government will revisit replacing the decile system for schools and the equity index (EQI) for early learning services once the work has been completed on how wider system settings should address equity, and on aspects of the Education Work Programme, such as the Review of Tomorrow’s Schools and the Early Learning Strategic Plan.

Decile funding will not be replaced in 2019 or 2020. The Government has asked the Ministry to proceed with recalculating deciles in schools and the equity index in services using the results of the 2018 census. New ratings will take effect in 2020.

The Equity Index

The Equity Index estimates the extent to which each child grows up in socio-economically disadvantaged circumstances that we know to be associated with their likelihood of achieving in education. Some of the factors that are included in the index are listed below. The index looks at the full basket of factors in a child’s life, not just at single factors on their own, and it is not possible for the Ministry of Education, schools or services to know information on individual children.

  • Proportion of time the child has been supported by benefits since birth
  • Child has a Child, Youth and Family notification
  • Mother’s age at child’s birth 
  • Father’s offending and sentence history
  • Ethnicity
  • Youth Justice referral 
  • Mother’s and father’s average earned income over previous 5 years 
  • School transience.

The Index operates within Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). The Privacy Act 1993 and the Statistics Act 1975 ensure that information on individual children cannot be disclosed from the IDI. As such, the Ministry of Education, schools and services will not be able see information about individual children.

These rules also ensure that it is not possible to infer the identity of individual children. For example, confidentiality rules restrict what can be disclosed from the IDI about schools with small rolls, or schools with very large numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

If the index is used to target resources to schools, this will be based on the general proportion of students in a school who come from a disadvantaged background. It will never be possible to “tag” resources to individual children.

The government has directed the Ministry to examine the potential to further refine the Index so that it can identify the impact of disadvantage on wellbeing in a broader sense, not just on achievement.

Funding Review work streams

The Government has decided that some parts of the previous Funding Review will continue in different ways, while others will not.

Learning support funding work will progress through the work on equity. Work on utilities funding, and on separate funding for property maintenance, will carry on in the School Property Project. Early learning per-child funding will now be considered in light of the Early Learning Strategic Plan.

The work on per-child funding in schools will be discontinued. Instead, school funding, including funding for smallness and isolation will be improved as opportunities arise. This decision also means that work to change the private school per-child subsidy has been ended.

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