When Hekia called the decile system a blunt instrument, she wasn’t joking, was she? The new decile ratings have left some schools feeling as though they’ve been bashed.
Take Wanganui City College, told it will lose $40k due to the review, while just up the road Wanganui Collegiate is getting an additional $11k its headmaster says it doesn’t need. Ouch.
(Double ouch when you bear in mind Wanganui Collegiate is an integrated day and boarding school that received a $3.8 Million bail out from the government and charges substantial fees.)
Green Island School in Dunedin jumped two decile levels, to 6, and loses around $10k per year.
And Kaka Street Special School loses $4,500 – which the principal explains is over 200 much needed teacher aide hours.
Ouch, ouch, ouch.
One of the problems with decile ratings is that the schools are divided into 10 percentiles, from poorest students to wealthiest, no matter what the actual socioeconomic level of those families:
– Decile 1 schools are the 10 per cent of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic homes.
– Decile 10 schools are the 10 per cent with the lowest proportion of students from low socio-economic homes.
So, for example, if families are getting poorer over the whole country, a school could find itself with a new decile rating despite its students having no change in financial circumstance. In other words, the children in the school may be just as needy as they ever were, but the school’s decile rating moves up because another school’s children are now even poorer.
And the rejigged decile ratings have another critical impact, which is that schools can lose the ability to access help from charities such as KidsCan, Duffy Books, food in schools programmes and access to social workers. Suddenly, with little or no change to the students’ circumstances, that extra support is gone.
Blunt instrument indeed.