Dodgy schools

There is much to be done in education if the article today is anything to go by. In the commercial world these actions are called fraud and theft, especially the nice little fuel card lark:

More than 100 schools have broken the law by mismanaging taxpayer money – including a principal and a receptionist who ticked off each other’s expenses while being in a relationship.

A report by the auditor-general found dodgy financial practices at 103 primary and secondary schools during the 2010 school year.

The breaches included lending public money to staff members, buying land and buildings without Education Ministry knowledge, borrowing money without permission and trying to hide it from auditors, not keeping accounting records, and providing financial statements without any figures.

One school was slapped on the wrist for giving all its board members fuel cards, which allowed them to charge petrol to the school’s account while also being paid for it in advance.

At a kura kaupapa, the principal and the office administrator were in a relationship while authorising each other’s expenses. “This is a conflict of interest because the situation could create an incentive for the principal and the office administrator to act in ways that might not be in the best interests of the kura,” the report noted.

The audit also found 32 schools were in “serious financial difficulties” – up from 17 in 2008 and 19 in 2009. Among kura kaupapa, 29 per cent had significant deficits in their financial controls.

The increase was due to increased emphasis on accurate reporting, the Office of the Auditor-General said.

As a result of the report, Auditor-General Lyn Provost has launched a special investigation into the financial position of schools, alongside another review of school governance, due in June.

Education Minister Hekia Parata believes it is time to look at the role and structure of school boards of trustees.

The Auditor-General should also start looking at dodgy unions.


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  • Grandstream

    Sorry, no news here that is likely to make the MSM.  Hoe long beofre  Kosh starts up on this ?

    • Dave

      School day Grandstream, he will be boring his pupils right now, best wait till 10.35 (tea break) 12.35 (lunch) or 3.10 (finish time)   

  • BJ

    I’d like to know how many kura kaupapa there are altogether – those numbers would be all telling.
    Here we have an institution that is meant to be teaching kids any number of things and here some of them are displaying all the traits of no integrity.

    • kehua

      Rural Schools and Kura Kaupapa often do not have the people on board that have the skills required in the Admin/record keeping area, often it`s difficult to even attract people  to offer themselves for these positions and it is the same people who coach the sports teams etc who become Trustees. Often in these situations it is the Principal or staff Rep that  orchestrates the Boards performance, again not necesserily having the skill base required, hence the Audits.

  • Riskit

    So your telling us that in the commercial world there is less fraud happening? Somehow I think there is an awful lot of creative accounting happening wherever there is money involved. To say schools are worse than anywhere else would take some proving I think.

    • BJ

      I don’t see any claim here that schools are worse than anywhere else. 

      The point is, it is fraud and theft and is money that is intended for the education of our children not for administrators to be reckless or dishonest with.  What a private business can do and does to protect themselves from fraud is their business but what a government funded school does is our business.

      • Dave

        Well said BJ.   In total agreement.   Schools use and account for Public funds.   In business, funds only become “public” once they are to be assesses or due to be paid to the public via taxes etc.   Up to that point, a private company need only account to themselves.

      • Riskit

        Actually if the private business is fiddling the tax side of things they are steeling from us all which is not good either. There is plenty of that goes on I think you and I both know that. Every time a firm does a cash job, the public misses out.

    • Dave

      In reply to RiskIt.   Please see the stats i did on the problems in Kura Kaupapa schools.

      39% thats a huge number, had significant deficits in their financial controls.   Thats a direct quote from a report.   

      I doubt there is such a widespread problem in the commercial world.   a huge disincentive is in place, they are called IRD who conduct random audits as they see fit, and the fines and interest charges can be crippling.   

      • Riskit

        IRD penalise schools too. 
        As for the Kura… I agree with you it is a problem. It is not a good look. There is a difference though between not handling money well and deliberately taking what is not yours to take. Most if not all teachers join  teaching to teach not to count beans. However many of the better teachers get promoted to positions where part of their job requires them to manage large amounts of money, something they were never trained to do. The solution is to do what someone else here suggested and hire accounting companies to deal with the majority of his wok and let school management focus on teaching and learning.

      • Stevo

        ‘The breaches included lending public money to staff members, buying land and buildings without Education Ministry knowledge, borrowing money without permission and trying to hide it from auditors, not keeping accounting records, and providing financial statements without any figures.’

        I fail to understand how this is ‘not handling money well’.

      • Eds52

        Most of the things you mentioned are just bad management of money/ financial practice, as opposed to stealing it. So yes you are right they are not handling money well. While people can lose their jobs for bad management (John Banks is about to learn this) you tend to go to jail for stealing it.

  • johnbronkhorst

    Yet they say the funding is too low. Not if you have the attitude, the taxpayers money is ONLY for the education of the kids. NOT the entertainment and expenses of the teachers and board.

  • Dave

    Kura Kappa School Numbers as at 2010  (Update Jan 2011)

    74 Schools and 6038 pupils.   Thats an average of 81.6 pupils each.   

    Given (quote) “29 kura kappa schools had significant deficits in their financial controls”, (thats 39% of them) it is obvious either, there is very poor financial control/management, or/and their schools are FAR too small to run any kind of school efficiently and effectively.   

    Whilst ERO has sighted a large number are achieving improved educational outcomes, in my books, this program is looking like a massive FAIL given the level of funding they receive.

    An OECD report in 2011 noted:    “there is a need for a wider range of assessment tools for Māori medium education”.    Interesting, the report also notes, (amongst a lot more reccomendations), there is a greater need for TEACHER assessment and linking performance to reward, and to ongoing training.    In fact, the report’s recommendations sounded more like something you would find in a very well run business.

    Kosh, this report is available at:

    General info from:

    • kehua

      Considering you are such a know all Dave I thought that you would at least be able to spell the name of the subject correctly, one is left wondering how much money was wasted on your education. Kind of looks like a Massive Fail  in terms of your uptake of knowledge.

      • Dave

        Kehua I apologize for the spelling, the post was made on the run from my phone.

        But I stand by the point I made. The stats speak for themselves.

        Please also note comment I made from ERO improved educational outcomes.

        If there is a skills shortage then why do they persist and why is there not a local accountant that can do it for them. I have been Chair in a BOT in the porirua area, well below decile 5 Not an easy job, we used a school accounting and maintenance service and kept pushing for improved facilities through community involvement. I know it’s bloody hard, sometimes schools, especially in communities that lack governance skills need to ask for help and guidance.

        Again sent from my phone please excuse typos and spelling errors.

  • Sarrs

    With some (albeit limited) experience with accounting for schools, I have observed appalling financial record keeping and understanding. Generally speaking, it is mine and my colleagues’ experience that there is a lack of ownership and accountability for accounting in schools. They are required to have a statutory audit each year, although there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of deterrent for receiving a ‘qualified’ opinion. 

    The school administrator should have ultimate responsibility for the financial reporting, not the board. The board are not likely to have the adequate skills and experience. The employment of a suitably qualified or experienced administrator should be as important as finding the right principal.  

    I don’t think there is widespread fraud or theft, I do however think that any entity that doesn’t have a tight grip on its financial requirements leaves itself unduly open to the possibility. You shouldn’t have to get burned first to know how to protect yourself.

    • Callum

      Most smaller (and some larger) schools rely on professional accounting service providers as it is impossible (and unecessary) for a school to fund an administrator capable of preparing full IFRS compliant accounts. All they need is someone who can handle day to day administration.
      As for the Kura’s, my experience is a massive sense of entitlement not seen in main stream schools. Staff advances are common, generally under the claim that payroll processing is too slow or makes errors. That is fine and I have seen circumstances it is justified, however any advance MUST be repaid immediately they receive the correct payment. There are no excuses not to as the staff member has already been paid so should be able to hand the additional payment back given they know they are not entitled to it. Some of the other things I have seen would make your toes curl, very hard to get anyone to act on them as well.

  • Mike

    Don’t forget that nepotism is part of maori culture so it is exempt from any law created by white people.

    • Dave

      Then lets settle all maori land claims in Maori currency!  Looks like the price of Kumera is going up!!

      • kehua

        Get fucked Dave you are a foolish man.

      • Dave

        In reply to Kehua.   My post was tongue in cheek.   Read Mike’s post as well.  I apologize if it offended you.

        For the record Kehua, i have no problems with schools or organizations based on one’s culture, but they ALL have to meet the standards imposed by the funders, and the education system, otherwise their funding is CUT and they are out of business. I make no distinction between Maori, Montessori, Rudolf Stiener, or Catholic based schools.   Here are the funds based on Y formula, the following are the rules…….  

        I also refer you to Callum’s post above.   My experience as well.   

        “There is a massive sense of entitlement”  I don’t have any concerns, about advancing someones pay for a day or so, or forking out for school trips in advance, but the books need to be squared off and repaid.   ERO ticked us off for a few advances in the School I was Chair of, but it was repaid within a few weeks, and was all recorded and signed for, so a proper paper trail was in place. In the end, a slap across the wrist with a wet bus ticket, and an apology form me and the BOT treasurer took care of that.    

        Kehua   I will ask you a direct question.   What resources and help is needed to address the situation??   Yes, I will put my efforts in to help.

  • Kosh103

    If they have misused funds then they should be punished accordingly. I am not about to defend people who have defrauded children.

    However, watch this space – National will use this as an excuse to take community involvment out of schools and centralise Education again, under them and their idiolgical beliefs. Education will be come less and less about real learning and more about passing next to worthless standadised tests.

    • Grandstream

      Actually these crooks are defrauding the tax payer.  The only way they are defrauding the children is by pushing the lefty/no hoper/socialist/sense of entitlement view of the World.

      • Grandstream

        And, cant wait to see teh Giovernment bring accountability into the education system….I undertsand why this bothers you KOSH, as you will be out of a job. Australia for you ?

      • Kosh103

        Sigh, I see grandstream is another know nothing twit when it comes to education.

      • Kosh103

        And no GS, I will not be out of a job. In fact performance pay would be VERY good for me. But overall it is not good for the proff and putting it into place fairly is next to impossible.

        Not that I expect someone like you to understand.

      • Kosh103

        Buns I have never lied, so please stop telling lies yourself.

    • Dave

      Kosh.   Please follow the link and read the report from the OECD in my post above.   Among a lot of things, it says Standardized TESTING is ESSENTIAL.   Now, please DONT post this and that about standardized tests, go argue with the OECD.

      On community involvement in schools, I think it is essential, but needs to be measured, and against a national standard, just as teachers performance should also be measured.

      PS:   Are you in breach of your employers internet policy again Kosh??  

      • Bunswalla

        Dave, we should acknowledge that Kosh has moved his position, if only slightly, in the general direction of the real world. He states that standardised tests are “next to worthless” – this is his first admission that standardised tests have SOME value.

        Well done, Kosh – that wasn’t so hard, was it? At least you’ve stopped telling lies – for the moment.

    • Pukakidon

       Kosh, I agree these scumbags have defrauded children.   However nothing will happen, it never does when he public service is concerned.

      You are right we need to get rid of the self promoting community boards, they have added nothing to the education of our kidds, but the still feed from the trough.

      • Kosh103

        I was not saying get rid of BOTs at all. They are an important link to the community and also important for keeping Govts dragging everything back to Wellington where they have zero understanding of how kids learn.

        And if you think BOTs are feeding from the trough – they get paid next to nothing to do a very big job.

      • Pukakidon

        “One school was slapped on the wrist for giving all its board members
        fuel cards, which allowed them to charge petrol to the school’s account
        while also being paid for it in advance”.

      • Kosh103

        Yes Puka – ONE Bot. Now work out the % that is of ALL BoTs.

        And calling a fule card “nose in the trough” stuff is a little bit of a stretch.

  • disappointed parent

    I wrote letters, reports and emails to the commissioner of my son’s former school complaining about the lack of financial abilities of the principal and terrible state of the schools financial reporting. I got so frustrated at the useless’ness of the principal I complained to the Ministry of Education and go nowhere. Waiting to see what the Ombudsman says but my hopes aren’t high.
    It seems no-one wants to be accountable & stop the problem or take some action. Unions complain about how hard it is for teachers, but when parents complain = no-one listens.
    I have tried for 2 years to get the help my son needed at school. The principal told me that “the school had no money” but found the $ to pay her cellphone bill + travel + dinner +new laptop  but not pay for teacher aide’s in the class room or apply for funding available from MoE.
    They failed to file their annual accounts on time. The commissioner did nothing and didn’t even bother to perform an appraisal for the year to tell her off. Where is the accountability?
    It scares me that they are responsible for teaching my children but have no personal responsibility for their actions.

  • Leoni

    Im a teacher at a Kura Kaupapa and have been made aware of a few dishonest financial transactions that happened within some schools, not just Kura Kaupapa. Its very disheartening to hear that ‘disappointed parent’ has not been adhered to as a parent. I agree whole heartedly that some schools need to be made accountable for their shoddy governance, whether it be finances or the lack of upskilling to ensure the school is managed well. I understand that some BOT lack the necessary skills to do some jobs, but a principal with honest intentions to the well being of his families, community and students will ensure all aspects of the school & its workers will be running adequately if not at optimum performance. I do disagree with any forms of dodgy dealings going on in schools at the expense our childrens education. In saying that Dave, was the stats 39% or 29% of Kura Kaupapa?? The staff from those Kura Kaupapa who privileged themselves with school money have brought shame on their whanau & belittled the mana of Kura Kaupapa through their greed. If the statistics are 29% had significant deficits, there were 71% of Kura Kaupapa who didnt…..because my kura is one of those!! We are teaching our children to be a future leader with positive role models, whanau & wider community involvement. We have ups and downs like other schools, but dont judge all schools on a minority when there are so many other important subjects to do with schools that we could try and resolve. Thank you Dave for that website, i really did enjoy reading the OECD report, dont agree with a few things but thats my own personal views on it.

    • Dave


      The stats, as per my prior post, came from Education matters and are as follows:

      74 Kura Kaupapa schools with 6038 pupils.   Thats an average of 81.6 pupils each.

      Correction on my prior post:  (apologies for my error)

      29%  Kura Kaupapa schools with “significant deficits in their financial controls”

      So, 74 *29% equals 21.5 schools with significant deficits……   and 53 that passed the test okay.   Unfortunately thats still an incredibly high rate of failure.   

      There are (at 1 July 2011) 2,548 schools in New Zealand.   The report states 103 had “significant deficits in their financial controls”

      Across all schools, thats  103 / 2548 = 0.04% with significant deficits in their financial control.

      Or:   (2548 – 74) = 2474 non Kura Kaupapa schools in NZ, and,
      (103-21) = 82 non Kura Kaupapa schools with significant deficits in their financial controls.

      Given this, 82/2474 = 0.033% of non Kura Kaupapa schools have “significant deficits in their financial control”  The previlence of stats is not good, its around 900 times more likely…… 

      I sincerely hope the Kura Kaupapa schools boards and leaders get the assistance they need with governance and management structures, or the hand that feeds will taketh away.   Thats not about maori, education, or Kura Kaupapa, its about the proper use of public funds, and the education of young Kiwis.

      I admire your involvement in your Kura Kaupapa school and in keeping it professional, great things can be achieved when people act for the good of the community and those that they serve.    I don’t agree with everything the OECD report recommended, but overall, it is a great document, with a lot of gems to lift our educational standards further.