School decile system to be replaced

Education Minister Nikki Kaye announced today that the Government will replace the school decile based funding system with a ‘Risk Index’. They say that no school will get less funding, but some will get more.

I hope it doesn’t just replace one system of bureaucracy with another.

Time will tell whether this planned change will survive past the election if a new Government comes into power.

Improved funding for children at risk of not achieving

Education Minister Nikki Kaye today confirmed the Government will replace the decile system for schools with targeted funding to better support those students most at risk of not achieving.

“For too long schools have been stigmatised and wrongly judged by their decile number,” says Ms Kaye.

“Children and young people deserve to take pride in their school and we need to better target funding to where the need is greatest to support all children to achieve.

“Today I’m announcing that the Cabinet has agreed to replace the decile system with a Risk Index that allows us to better target funding to schools with children and young people most at risk of not achieving due to disadvantage.

“We will also be replacing the equity index used to allocate disadvantage funding in early childhood education with the Risk Index.”

Decile funding currently accounts for less than 3% of a school’s resources.

“Rather than allocating this funding on the basis of neighbourhood characteristics as the current decile system does, the Risk Index will instead provide fairer funding that better reflects the needs of children in our schools and services.

This will mean extra resources are better targeted to support schools to lift achievement.”

The specific factors to be used in the index are subject to further analysis before being finalised. But, they will be the indicators which evidence tells us have the greatest influence on student achievement.

“However, I’m pleased to be able to confirm that no school, early learning service or ngā kōhanga reo will see a reduction in their funding as a direct result of this change,” says Ms Kaye.

“In fact, we expect some will gain significantly.

“This is the first major change to be announced as part of the Funding Review, and I would like to acknowledge the incredible work by my predecessor Honourable Hekia Parata who initiated this important piece of work.

“As part of the Review the Government has been working with education leaders, such as those in the Ministerial Advisory Group for the Funding Review and a Technical Reference Group, which have advocated for change and further funding for disadvantage.

“With any system, whether it’s with decile or the Risk Index it’s very important that children and young people’s privacy is protected at all times. The way the system is being designed it will not be possible to identify which children generate the additional funding.”

There will be further engagement before any changes are implemented, although it’s likely the new model of funding will take effect from 2019 or 2020.

“Stripping out decile will change how schools are judged,” says Ms Kaye.

“We are working on a number of initiatives to make it easier for parents to find and assess information about the quality of schools.

“This includes a project with ERO that improves their reports and key information as well as making it more accessible to parents. This will involve some investment in greater online tools.”

Further work on other aspects of education funding is also ongoing. The Ministry of Education is due to report back later this year on the other parts of the Funding Review.

Related Documents

1 News:  Teachers union wants schools ‘underfunding’ dealt with as decile system scrapped

The primary teachers union says it’s big concern is underfunding for schools following the Government’s announcement that the controversial decile system will be replaced with a new rating system for funding.

The unions are largely welcoming the idea, but worry about the funding.

“Our big concern is obviously the underfunding that we have currently in the system. And that’s what we really want to see addressed,” said Lynda Stuart, NZEI president.


Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  31st July 2017

    In another words the same system under a different name with a few tweaks. I listen to Nikki’s interview.

    • PDB

       /  31st July 2017

      Initially I think you are right, but over successive years I think you’d notice a difference in actually matching funding to each student’s personal circumstances rather than basing funding on what the school’s surrounding community’s average income is. For too long decile has been linked by parents as to quality of education when there are crap schools in both low and high deciles.

      What actually makes the cut in terms of making up the risk index will be key as to its effectiveness.

  2. High Flying Duck

     /  31st July 2017

    One of the best things about this new policy is it removes the completely irrelevant stigma that the decile system imposes on schools.
    People equate the decile rating, which is purely socio economic with the quality of the education on offer. This unfairly impacts on schools in low income areas.
    By removing this and by becoming more targeted with how funding is allocated hopefully we will get a more equal spread of good schools over time.
    Also nice to see that this is just a first step and is another step in the data based targeting of funding being implemented across all government services.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  31st July 2017

      Do we really think the rankings order will change much?

      • High Flying Duck

         /  1st August 2017

        The quality of the headmaster is the single most important factor in creating a high performing school, closely followed by the teachers.

        The removal of the decile system takes away stigma and improves funding targeting – although it is still very broad brush. This will help with recruitment of quality teachers, and if funding is better targeted, perhaps getting good headmasters into schools that need them.

        The new policy, coupled with the previously announced policy of using high performing schools and top headmasters to share knowledge, systems and expertise will be what lifts overall standards if it is properly implemented.

  3. Brown

     /  1st August 2017

    At the end of the day I suspect that nothing will change. The real educational problems stem from parental disfunction and I can’t see how more money will fix that.

  1. School decile system to be replaced — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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