School deciles

Learn about the process for deciles. We use deciles to target funding, for state and state-integrated schools, to help them overcome any barriers to learning that students from lower socio-economic communities might face.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki


Boards and principals should be aware of their school’s decile, how it is calculated, which funding it impacts and where to look if they wish to review it. 

About deciles

School deciles indicate the extent the school draws their students from low socio-economic communities.

We use deciles to target funding, for state and state-integrated schools, to help them overcome any barriers to learning that students from lower socio-economic communities might face.

The lower the school’s decile, the more funding it receives.

What deciles measure

Deciles are a measure of the socio-economic position of a school’s student community relative to other schools throughout the country.

For example, decile 1 schools are the 10% of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities, whereas decile 10 schools are the 10% of schools with the lowest proportion of these students.

A school's decile does not indicate the overall socio-economic mix of the school or reflect the quality of education the school provides.

Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state-integrated schools to enable them to overcome the barriers to learning faced by students from lower socio-economic communities. The lower the school’s decile, the more funding they receive.

When deciles are calculated

We recalculate deciles for all schools every five years following the Census of Population and Dwellings.

Census – Stats NZ(external link)

Socio-economic indicators for decile ratings

Deciles are based on five socio-economic indicators for a community:

  • percentage of households with income in the lowest 20% nationally
  • percentage of employed parents in the lowest skill level occupational groups
  • household crowding
  • percentage of parents with no educational qualifications
  • percentage of parents receiving income support benefits.

Stage 3 below sets out how deciles are calculated

Why neighbouring schools might have different deciles

We base a school’s decile on the small Census areas where its students live, not on the general area of the school. These small areas are called meshblocks.

Meshblocks – Stats NZ(external link)

Neighbouring schools might draw students from different meshblocks, resulting in different deciles.

The size of a school’s catchment area also affects the decile. For example, secondary schools have much larger catchment areas than primary schools.

When deciles might change

Deciles might change when we recalculate them in the year following the Census.

A decile can also change if schools apply for a decile review.

Decile reviews

Which funding deciles determine

Deciles determine some operational funding and a range of resource funding.

Operational funding

Within a school’s operational funding, deciles determine the allocation of:

  • Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement 
  • the Special Education Grant 
  • the Careers Information Grant.


Ministry of Education resources determined by a school’s decile include:

  • Kura Kaupapa Māori transport (deciles 1–10)
  • Priority Teacher Supply Allowance (deciles 1–2)
  • National Relocation Grant (deciles 1–4)
  • Decile Discretionary Funding for Principals (deciles 1–4)
  • Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour (RTLBs) Learning Support Funding (deciles 1–10)
  • RTLBs for Years 11 to 13 (deciles 1–10)
  • School Property Financial Assistance scheme (deciles 1–10)
  • Study Support Centres (deciles 1–3)
  • District Truancy Service (deciles 1–10).

Note: the following services are funded by Oranga Tamariki and delivered by NGO providers: 

  • Social Workers in Schools (available to most decile 1–3 schools)
  • Youth Workers in Secondary Schools (available in 27 decile 1–3 schools)
  • Multi-Agency Support Services in Secondary Schools (available in 21 decile 1–3 schools).

For more information refer to the Oranga Tamariki website.

School-based social work programmes - Oranga Tamariki(external link) 

How deciles are calculated

The decile calculation process has seven stages as follows.

Stage one

Schools supply their student addresses to the Ministry. We use the addresses to determine the areas from which each school is drawing its students.

Stage two

We assign student addresses to the smallest Census areas called meshblocks (a meshblock contains around 50 households). Then we calculate the number and percentage of students from each meshblock.

Note: Statistics New Zealand gives us confidential access to Census data, and we only use it to calculate decile ratings. The Ministry cannot identify individuals from Census data relating to decile calculations. We extract information from each meshblock, but only from households with school-aged children.

Stage three

We examine each meshblock against five socio-economic indicators and equally weight them in the calculations.

  • Household income – the percentage of households with equivalent income in the lowest 20%, nationally adjusted for the number of adults and children in the household and the age of the children. Households with a member who is unemployed or households supported by a benefit are not usually included in this group.
  • Occupation – the percentage of employed parents in occupations that are at skill levels 4 or 5 according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). These occupations include all labourers, all machine operators and assemblers, and others who work in occupations at these lower skill levels regardless of the sector, type, or profession involved.
  • Household crowding – the percentage of households with an equivalised crowding index greater than one. This index measures the proportion of household members per bedroom adjusted for the presence of children under 10, every 2 of whom are assigned to share a bedroom. Couples and others are each assigned their own bedroom.
  • Educational qualification – the percentage of parents with no tertiary or school qualifications.
  • Income support – the percentage of parents who directly (not as a partner) received Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support, or Supported Living Payments (previously known as the Domestic Purposes Benefit, Unemployment Benefit, and Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit) in the previous year.

Stage four

The five indicators are weighted by the number of students from each meshblock. This means that meshblocks where only a few of a school’s students live will have little effect on its decile, while those having more will have a greater effect.

Stage five

We rank the schools in relation to every other school for each of the 5 indicators and give them a score based on their percentile.

Stage six

We add the five indicator scores for each school together (without any weightings) to get a total. This total gives the overall standing of the school in relation to all other schools in the country.

Stage seven

We divide schools into 10 groups called deciles, based on the total score calculated in stage six. Each decile group has approximately the same number of schools.

We sub-divide deciles 1 to 4 into three funding steps (1a, 1b, 1c, and so on) and then allocate about a third of schools to each funding step within the decile.

Find a school’s decile

The following spreadsheet contains the ratings and targeted funding for educational achievement (TFEA) steps for state and state-integrated schools.

School deciles 2015 [XLS, ]

Find a list of current decile ratings and contact details for schools in Excel and CSV format:

New Zealand Schools – Education counts website(external link)

Calculate per-pupil funding for deciles

Find the per-student funding rates for each decile:

Operational funding rates

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