Who is on quick dial for A Newpaper’s Education Repeater?

Encamped on the Left, a newspaper’s education reporter spent two days trying to tell the nation (or the few that still read the rag) why things are just too hard for lower income families and how schools are, therefore, on a hiding to nothing.

On day 3 she pretends to look for solutions and comes up with kids drawing posters at a few schools.

So she digs deeper into her inner circle and gets the response below from people who will never be in a position to do anything about anything – so they just waffle.

Only interesting solution is where Rashbrooke says give the families $1000.

What more we could do to close the achievement gap?

1. More support for kids with learning needs

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins says he would like to see the amount of support for children with special learning needs increased.

“I would also like to see more targeted programmes like Reading Recovery available in all schools, along with similar programmes in maths. Having said all of that, we can’t simply pretend that the lives kids lead outside the school gate don’t have an impact.”   

2. Schools as community hubs

Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty says the decile model ought to remain, and her party would also implement its school hubs policy for decile one to three schools. These would include a paid facilitator, school nurse, school food programme and other services determined by the community and the school.

3. Targeted support instead of deciles

New Zealand First education spokeswoman Tracey Martin says there should be equity funding based on individual children’s needs, rather than a decile rating or other arbitrary measures based on a parent community. Equity funding ought to be tied to student achievement, so those with higher learning needs receive more funding. “We also believe that any funding should stay with that child for as long as they require it.”

4. Keep the deciles, change the publication

Waikato University education academic Martin Thrupp says we should continue to base decile funding on census data, and definitely not tie it to school performance. But he says the scale of funding should be less obvious. “There is no reason to exaggerate the stigmatising of schools by providing such a simple one to 10 scale as we are doing now with the decile approach.”

5. Never mind schools, just give it to families

Max Rashbrooke, editor of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, says his favourite piece of research on the topic was a meta-study of the literature on spending on kids, which shows that if you want to raise a poor child’s school results, giving their family $1000 is just as effective as $1000 spent in the school system – and has lots of other spill-over effects for family functioning that the school spending doesn’t have.

Gee, she shows real balance there…a chip on both shoulders. I’m surprised there isn’t some dictation from the PPTA or the NZEI in there, but then I remembered, they don’t have solutions for anything, just opposition to everything.

But Rashbrooke clearly missed that this is exactly what the Charter Schools are doing when they provide uniform and stationery, don’t charge donations and provide all trips for free.

The ragged 5 wouldn’t know a solution if they tripped over it but here is a clue again – if they have short attention spans they could just try fast forwarding to 5:45 where the welfare part is discussed.

Keep in mind too that these schools are funded for set up less than 10% of a state school and funded at decile 3 level.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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