Donations Scheme FAQs

General information

When is the deadline to opt in to the donations scheme?

The opt-in process has been aligned with the July roll return as this is the roll on which the donations scheme funding is calculated.

When you submit your July roll return you will be prompted to confirm if you are choosing to opt in to the donations scheme for the following school year. For more information please refer to the School Roll Return Guidelines(external link).

Boards are encouraged to consult with their school communities to ensure their views are reflected when making the decision to opt in to the donations scheme or not, and to let their school communities know their final decision.

The decision to opt in or out of the donations scheme is an annual one. However, if you wish to opt in for longer than one year, you can do so.
If you have any further questions regarding the donations scheme, you can contact our team on (04) 463 8383 or at

What information do we need to provide to opt in?

In addition to the declaration form, Boards are required to record the decision to opt in to the donations scheme in their Board minutes. They do not need to send this minute to the Ministry. 

When will the first payments be made to Boards?

The donations funding will be as a lump sum as part of your January Operational Funding Instalment. 

How will the funding be calculated?

The donations scheme funding will be calculated at $150 (GST exclusive) per student, based off the July roll. The July roll is the most recent confirmed roll. For most schools it is also the most favourable roll to use. The level of funding will not be recalculated for roll increases or decreases. 

Do international students get counted in the calculation of donations scheme funding for a school?

No. International students are not included in the school roll that generates Operational Grant Funding. The same rule applies to the calculation of donations scheme funding because tuition fees charged to international students are presumed to cover all their costs.

Eligibility Criteria 

Why is the donations scheme open to decile 1-7 schools only?

School deciles indicate the extent the school draws their students from low socio-economic communities. We use deciles to target funding to state and state-integrated schools, to help them overcome any barriers to learning that students from lower socio-economic communities might face. 

Will decile 8-10 schools be eligible in future?

Although decile 8-10 schools are not currently eligible to opt in to the donations scheme, the Minister of Education, Hon. Chris Hipkins, has said that the Government is open to extending the donations scheme to decile 8-10 schools in the future, subject to future Budget decisions. 

Why are private schools not eligible?

Families choose to enrol their children in private schools on the understanding they will be charged fees, and private schools have the freedom to set their fees at any level they see fit. Private schools are not required to provide free enrolment and free education. These schools currently receive only a small per-student subsidy from the Government as a contribution towards the cost of curriculum delivery.

By contrast, state and state-integrated schools are legally required to provide free education and enrolment, and the Government funding they receive is intended to cover the full costs of meeting this obligation. School donations are voluntary and parents and whānau can choose to pay them in full, in part or not at all. 

How do I know what decile my school is?

You can find out what decile your school is via the Education Counts website, which shows a list of all schools and their decile ratings(external link)

How do we seek a decile review?

Schools can apply for a review of their decile rating if they believe there has been a significant change in the school's roll profile since deciles were last recalculated in 2014. 

Applications for the 2020 Decile Review open on Monday 20 July 2020 and must be returned to the Ministry before 5.00pm Monday 21 September 2020.  Further information can be found here Decile Review – Education Counts(external link)

If our decile review is successful and our school decides to opt in to the donations scheme, how can we do so?

If a Board successfully applies for a decile review that results in them gaining eligibility for the donations scheme, they will be advised before the start of the school year.

Boards of Trustees will have until 29 February 2021 to consult with their communities and let us know their decision by filling in the online declaration form(external link).

Schools will receive their donations funding as part of their April Operational Funding Instalment. The funding will be calculated based on the previous year’s July roll return.

Please note: If a school applies for a decile review and anticipates that they will be eligible to opt in to the donations scheme, they must not ask families for donations from the start of the school year.

What will happen if deciles are replaced?

While the Government intends to shift to the Equity Index, the introduction is subject to the results of a widespread consultation with principals, sector stakeholders, and the wider public.

This means that schools will retain their current decile for the foreseeable future. There is a process and application pack(external link) for schools to review their decile rating if they are concerned that it is no longer accurate.

Our school isn't eligible to opt in. How can the Ministry help our financial planning so we don't need to rely on donations from parents and whānau?

Contact your local Ministry of Education office(external link) to discuss what guidance and support might be available. 

Guidelines on What Schools Can Charge For 

What can schools ask parents and whānau to pay for?

State and state-integrated schools are required to provide free education and free enrolment to domestic students aged 5-19. The most important thing is that the donations scheme does not change the long standing entitlement of students to a free education.

We’ve produced guidelines for parents and whānau that make it clear what they can be asked to pay for and what their obligations are for paying. As a guide, schools may request donations towards the cost of curriculum delivery but cannot compel or enforce payment for items that are part of this. Schools can ask parents and whānau to pay for goods or services provided by the school when they are optional and where they have clearly agreed to pay.

Boards may charge for sports trips or activities that are outside the curriculum, for example school sports teams. Participation in these activities is optional and schools can enforce payment where they have agreed that a child can participate. Any charge should be made clear in advance. It should also be made clear that participation in these types of activities is voluntary.

If parents or whānau choose to purchase stationery from the school then payment can be enforced, however parents or whānau should not be compelled to buy stationery from the school. Textbooks and compulsory workbooks are curriculum related, so parents and whānau cannot be charged.  If it is an optional workbook which parents or whānau have agreed to purchase, the school can charge.  If students are required to provide calculators or devices, then that is curriculum related and so parents and whānau cannot be charged or be required to provide the equipment.

Another example is course materials. Parents cannot be charged for materials used in delivering the curriculum. This includes cooking ingredients for a food technology class. Food eaten as part of a food technology class is curriculum because students need to taste the food they prepare to ensure it is fit for consumption (sensory evaluation). Parents can be charged for the cost of materials when they have agreed to take home items such as a letterbox or clothing. 

If your school decides to opt in to the donations scheme your Board cannot ask parents and whānau for any donations, unless they are for a school camp.

Opting in to the donations scheme does not affect a Board’s ability to fundraise through the sale of goods and services, for example running a school fair or selling raffle tickets.

For further information regarding requirements about what schools can charge for please visit our website.

If you are concerned that a school is not requesting donations in an appropriate way, you can contact your local Ministry of Education Office(external link)

Can schools ask for payment for school camps?

Many schools offer camps as part of their curriculum. A camp is considered curriculum-related if there is an expectation that students attend, or it is part of coursework. Boards may request donations towards the cost of these camps but cannot compel or enforce payment as has always been the case. The most important thing is that this long standing requirement has not changed. Students may not be excluded from attending a camp or going on a trip that is part of curriculum delivery because of an inability or unwillingness to pay a donation towards the cost.

If a trip is not part of the curriculum (for example, sports tournament where participation is voluntary), Boards may charge parents or whānau a fee as this is considered a purchase of a good or service.

For the purposes of the donations scheme, a school camp is defined as any curriculum-related activity where students are expected to stay overnight as part of the activity. Some examples of activities covered by this definition include Education Outside the Classroom camps, multi-day tramp and senior school leadership camp. 

Will I still need to pay attendance dues for my child to attend a state-integrated school?

Yes. Proprietors of state-integrated schools may charge attendance dues. This is the only compulsory payment in the schooling system. If the Board of a state-integrated school decides to opt in to the donations scheme, this does not affect the proprietor’s ability to charge attendance dues. 

Why are separate bodies associated with the school still allowed to ask for donations?

School Boards will make the decision on whether to opt in to the donations scheme. However, separate legal entities associated with a school, such as a parent-teacher association or a proprietor of a state-integrated school, or any other organisation or individual, are not subject to the agreement. This means that these separate entities can continue to request donations from parents and whānau.

We’ve produced guidance on what schools can and can’t ask for

Can parents/whānau still make a donation to their child’s school if they want to?

Parents and whānau are still free to make any donations they wish to a school. Schools that opt in to the donations scheme are required to stop asking for donations (with the exception of school camps), but this does not restrict their ability to receive donations that parents and whānau (or any other individual or organisation) may wish to give. 

Can participating schools still get parents and whānau involved in fundraising activities?

All schools are welcome to run fundraising activities such as school fairs. Schools cannot compel students or their parents or whānau to pay for or take part in fundraising activities. 

Won't decile 8-10 schools ask for higher donations because they can't get this funding?

Boards that choose to request donations are free to ask for any amounts they choose. Parents and whānau are free to choose whether to pay these in full, in part, or not at all. 

Rules and Monitoring of Compliance 

Are there rules around what schools can spend this additional funding on?

The additional funding that Boards receive by participating in the donations scheme will be paid as a component of their Operational Grant. Although operational funding for schools is broken into different components, the various funds are not ‘tagged’. This means a Board can decide what the funding is used for.

All money received by Boards, whatever the source, are public funds - and Boards are accountable for all of their expenditure. Guidance on financial decision-making is available in the Financial Information for Schools Handbook

Can a school opt out of this policy at a later date?

Once a Board has opted in to the donations scheme it must remain in the scheme for the full school year. It’s not possible to opt out mid-year as the payments are made at the beginning of the year.

All schools are required to opt in annually for the following school year. 

What will happen if participating schools keep asking for donations?

New legislation passed by Parliament will allow us to recover funding from Boards that continue to ask for donations while receiving the $150 per student per year payment except for overnight camps.

We will follow up on any complaints received about schools’ practices. 

How will schools be monitored?

We will assist schools with complying with the conditions of the donations scheme and the Education Act.

If we find a school to be non-compliant, in the first instance, we will work with them to ensure they rectify the situation within an agreed time period.

We will monitor and intervene where there is evidence of a breach of the donations scheme. If a Board of a school breaches the donation scheme’s requirements, we may reduce future payments made to the Board to recover the funding provided under the donations scheme. We may also withdraw the school from the donations scheme and/or prevent them from joining in future years.



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