Schools under pressure

Written By: - Date published: 2:38 pm, May 31st, 2015 - 11 comments
Categories: education, schools - Tags: , ,

Every budget National trumpets putting more money into health and education. But the amount doesn’t keep up with population growth and inflation, so it amounts to cuts in real terms. Cuts have consequences:

Secondary schools to slash spending

Financially strapped secondary schools are cutting back on classroom activities, dropping field trips, ditching science experiments and even removing courses after a crackdown on parent donation rules.

A New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council survey into funding guidelines set by the Ministry of Education in 2013 has revealed:

• Nearly two-thirds of high schools report a reduction in school finances

• NCEA assessments have been affected

• Students now go on “in-school” field trips

• Pupils are not as “engaged” in scaled-back activities and

• Some principals have “chosen” to ignore funding guidelines.

In one case a secondary school had to abandon an NCEA Level 2 biology field trip to the beach because it could not afford to hire a bus. The science teacher had to apply to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to alter the data collection assessment so the students would not fail. Another school was forced to alter its science curriculum by reducing experiments to trim costs. One school said it had done away with activities outside the school gates, including a sea kayaking standard for year 12 physical education students. Principals reported outdoor education programmes, food, hospitality and technology courses could be affected by the funding guidelines.

The article focuses on limitations on school donations as the trigger, but that’s just a smokescreen for the underlying issue – schools are not adequately funded for the job we ask them to do. Not that that bothers folk who send their kids to private schools I guess.

Update: Coincidentally – today’s Doonesbury…

11 comments on “Schools under pressure”

  1. coaster 1

    its not the donations that are the issue, its the courses that have cost component that parents dont legally have to pay for, in particular with the rules clarifications over the last 2 years.

    hard materials tech requires components ( wood for a chair construction), if the pardnts choose not to take the finished product home they do mot have to pay for the materials, the school does (even though this isnt funded for).

    in food tech, a compulsary component is the base ingrediants when doing pratical assesments, if parents choose not to contribute to the cost of these they dont have to, but the school doesnt receive funding for this very expensive course components.

    with compulsary field trips, mainly ones required as part of the curriculum, the school can request voluntary contribution, but cant exclude students who dont pay.

    it has become a mindfield to navigate what you can and cant charge for, some schools charge for internet usage or printing just to cover some costs.

    i have been told that the ministry only fund maintenance cost on teaching areas in schools, so maintenance of hallways, toilets, offices storage areas have to come out of the bulk grant, im not sure how true this is though.

  2. esoteric pineapples 2

    I’m always amazed at how many schools have trips to the Cook Islands and even Europe these days. These are supposed to be educational trips. Rarotonga is essentially a tourist resort you can pushbike around in about an hour.

    • In Vino 2.1

      Nice sarcasm. But for those who miss it, I must point out that students and their parents fund such trips, not the schools. Our schools, sad to say, are not flooded with money to splash around in such a way. And teachers do unpaid extra-curricular work in arranging everything, especially the fund-raising.

      Be fair. Living in Rarotonga for a while may be worth more than a pushbike ride.

      Sad to see how few can be bothered to comment…

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        For a lot of stories like this, there isn’t all that much to say other than to agree with the post.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2

        One reason few are commenting is that the material contained in the OP is common ground. How many times can you say “the stupidity, it burns!” in response to National Party ‘education’ ‘policy’, before fatigue sets in?

        Right wing gibberish delivers degraded education: everyone knows that. What’s to discuss?

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Imprudentiae, et ultra 🙁

  4. coaster 4

    theres lots to discuss, its just so big.

    trips overseas seem to be the domain of rivate schools.

    huge numbers of kids have learning disabilitys that are undiagnosed (officially) because there parents cant afford the cost for an assessment, thus the schools receive no funding for extra ta hours, even though the schools know thd kids have problems.

    many kids in parts of nz have no access to dental care (free or otherwise) due to a lack of dental nurses, and the dentists in those areas wont see the kids for a checkup due to bureacracy (this is hppening to my kids).

    schools are now becoming the defacto first point social agency for all sorts of things that none of there staff are trained for. often if they do have a guidance counsellor they are not funded fulltime so schools have to fund shortfalls out of operational grants.

    there are so many things that are underfunded in schools now it has gone beyond a joke, and still the schools do bloody well in the goal of giving the students the best oportunities they can to do well later on in life.

    oh, and of course there is still novopay which is still a bloody mess.

  5. millsy 5

    I wonder how much of this was due to the Picot reforms……

    Before October 1989 schools would have had support from various bodies such as the old Education Department, Education Boards, etc and so on.

    Tomorrow’s schools whipped that all away in favour of a block grant and a competitve market for all these things. Even things that were supposed to replace the old guard, such as education forums, education service centres, and a parental advisory service never got off the ground.

    • The Fairy Godmother 5.1

      Yes millsy I think the rot set in in 1989. I also think that the main problem is that it heralded an age of competition. The interesting thing is that Pasi Sahlberg the Finnish educator who came out recently stated that you can’t have both quality and choice in public education. The competition or choice that we have has certainly eroded the quality. Also the government can duck responsibility and pass the buck on to the schools and boards it has inadequately funded.

  6. Sable 6

    No kidding. The voluntary fees we pay each year are hideous….

  7. SMILIN 7

    This is a govt of excuses they cant see that under Labour things were working really well but to get into power they had to bring all these failed and dumped US education systems and the US prison systems to continue to get US foreign aid in some form or another
    Because of the so called financial crash in 2008 when u analize it was a bunch of greedy bastards who got what was coming to them
    We are being ruled by a govt by fear of” well if we dont comply we will get more of 2008 ” get real this a ridiculous attempt by this govt to be Gobbels like with its Crosby /Textor PR machine
    Key is a political fraud he has destroyed this country’s sovereignty which was already hanging by a thread when he came to power
    And because he is so undemocratic the office of the PM has be brought into disrepute greater than RD Muldoon or Syd Holland
    With FASCISTS you dont believe anything they say because they use your friends as well as your enemies to destroy the power of the majority in a democratic system which is the extreme position of this govt
    Funding Sky city, u name it theres so many socially destructive forms of spending of this govt and we have to listen to this Key prick, its sickening
    The latest lie falling fuel prices go from there, creation of new jobs bs at what 50,000 year to Ak immigration, Jez Wayne what a crock of shit Key you are trying to sell us.
    Education by this govt is manipulating a democratic responsibility in a socialist democracy, by capitalist tooling thru a govt, obviously biased to privatising the education system of this country so that honest work becomes a dirty word, or responsibility of the govt to actually give confidence to those in the system that the govt will have their future as a priority in govt policy.

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