What families/whānau need to know about school/kura donations

Know your rights, obligations and the rules around school donations. Learn more about the government’s donation scheme.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther

Inform

  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki

Parents, caregivers, and whānau never have to make a donation to school or kura if they choose not to. If in the case of goods and services, a parent chooses to purchase supplies like pens for their child from the school, then they must pay as per agreed.  State schools can never charge domestic students for enrolment or attendance, or for the delivery of curriculum. 

Key information

If your child attends a decile 1–7 school or kura, the school board needs to decide each year whether it should opt-in or not to the Government’s school donations scheme.

What is the ‘donation scheme’?

The Government will pay your school or kura $150 per student per year if:

  • the school board agrees to opt-in to the scheme AND to not ask you for any donations (gifts/koha), except for overnight school camps.

The school donations scheme does not change the long-standing entitlement of students to a free education. If your school or kura decides to opt-in to the donations scheme, it cannot ask you for any donations except for overnight camps.

About the scheme

This initiative is designed to alleviate pressure and expectation from families to pay donations even though they are voluntary.

As a parent, caregiver, family, or whānau you can ask to attend the Board meeting where they will discuss whether to opt-in or not.

What happens if your school opts-in

  • The board cannot ask you to make a donation unless it is for an overnight school/kura camp.
  • You can choose if you want to pay none, some or all of the donation.
  • If you choose not to make a donation, your child cannot be stopped from attending a camp if it is part of the school’s core learning programme (curriculum).
  • You cannot be asked to make either a general or specific donation (for example a donation for a day trip to a museum or a field trip to a hiking track).

What happens if your school does not join

  • The school/kura will not receive additional funding.
  • Your school/kura can still ask you to make donations.
  • The board may seek donations toward the cost of the core learning programme (curriculum).
  • You can be asked to make either a general or specific donation (e.g. a donation for a day trip to a museum or a field trip to a hiking track).
  • Donations are voluntary, so you can choose if you want to pay none, some or all of the donation.
  • If you choose not to make a donation, your child cannot be stopped from attending a camp or field trip if it is part of the core learning programme (curriculum).

Rules that apply at all times

Section 33 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) states that every person who is not an international student is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school during the period beginning on the person’s fifth birthday and ending on 1 January after the person’s 19th birthday. This means that state schools cannot charge domestic students a fee for enrolment or attendance, or for the delivery of the curriculum.

Schools and kura can ask parents to:

  • pay for goods they provide that are optional (e.g. pens, lunches).

What are your obligations

Donations are voluntary, no matter who asks for them.

You never have to make a donation to your school/kura, but you can give any size donation any time if you want to. If you choose to do this, GST is not payable on the donation and you can claim a tax credit.

If you have questions regarding payments contact your board or your local Ministry office. You can also email any questions to school.donations@education.govt.nz.

Goods and services

If you are asked to purchase goods and services, it is up to you whether you buy them from the school/kura or elsewhere. You should not be pressured to buy goods or services but if you agree to buy from your school/kura, you must pay for it.

  • If the school or kura has a uniform, you need to provide your child with one, but you can choose to buy it from the school/kura or, if available, to buy a new or second-hand uniform elsewhere.

Optional activities

If you choose to have your child participate in optional activities such as weekend sports teams or after-hours cultural activities (extra-curricular), you may be asked to cover the costs of these activities.

Attendance Dues

Schools and kura that are state-integrated have the same core learning programme as other schools/kura (the New Zealand Curriculum/Te Marautanga o Aotearoa), but also their own special character (usually a philosophical or religious belief).

You must pay attendance dues to the proprietor of a state-integrated school/kura to cover the cost of property-related matters – they are compulsory.

The maximum level of attendance dues cannot be increased without the approval of the Minister of Education.

What is a school camp?

A school camp is defined as any curriculum-related activity where students are expected to stay overnight as part of that activity. Parents, caregivers, and family/whānau can choose to pay none, some or all of the school camp donation. If they choose not to make a donation, a child cannot be stopped from attending a camp if it is part of the school’s curriculum.

ActivitiesExamples
Camp
  • Education Outside the Classroom camp
  • Year 9 induction camp
  • Senior school leadership camp
  • Overnight field trip as part of senior secondary assessment (e.g. Year 12 Biology field trip)
  • An overnight trip to Wellington to visit key places such as Te Papa, Parliament, and the Carter Observatory
Not camp
  • Swimming lessons
  • Day trip to the museum
  • Day trip as part of senior secondary assessment

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