Here we go again, Teacher’s union scaremongering over bulk funding

The teacher’s union are whinging again. Has there ever been a government policy they’ve agreed with?

This time they are scaremongering over bulkfunding…like it is a bad thing.

A government proposal is threatening to revive one of the most bitter disputes the school sector has seen in the past 25 years.

It has suggested giving schools a bulk allocation of funding and leaving it up to principals to decide how much of it to set aside for staffing.

Principals’ and teachers’ groups say that sounds like “bulk funding”, which was ditched in 2000, and they are angry the government has sprung it on them as part of its review of the school and early childhood education funding systems.

Under the proposal, according to an information sheet published by the Ministry of Education, schools could decide how much of their funding to use for what were called staffing credits, and how much to use as a cash component paid in instalments to cover operational costs.

The suggestion differed from past bulk-funding proposals because the ministry would continue to pay teachers’ salaries, it said – the schools would receive notional “credits” for their teachers, not the actual funding for their pay.

It said:

  • Principals would determine the split between ‘cash’ and ‘credit’, with the flexibility to make adjustments during the year.
  • Unspent credit would be paid out at the end of the year and a process for recovering credit overspends would be established.
  • Teaching staff salaries would be charged against the credit portion at an average rate. This was a significant difference from historical bulk-funding proposals, which would have seen schools charged the actual salary.
  • Non-teaching staff salaries would be charged against the credit portion at actual cost.

However, any unused allocation of staffing credits would be paid to schools at the end of the year.

Sounds sensible, but the PPTA isn’t happy.

Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) president Angela Roberts said that meant it was clearly bulk funding.

“It is bulk funding. It is minor technicalities that make it something different, and I think it’s very cynical of the ministry to think that they can con people with a change in language.”

The union’s fear was that schools would cut corners on staffing in order to use money from their overall allocation of funding elsewhere, Ms Roberts said.

“The schools get to decide how they spend that, how many teachers they purchase effectively and how many teacher aides. So schools will be incentivised through the averaging out to have cheaper teachers or fewer teachers because they can cash that money up.”

A bulk funding system would also make it easier for governments to reduce their funding to schools over time, she said.

“Bulk funding was resoundingly rejected by the community 20 years ago because everybody understood the cost would be borne by the school when the government couldn’t be bothered putting more money into the system.”

She said she expected the new proposal would be rejected too.

Their objections are all coulds and maybes and what-ifs. None of that is evidence and the union presents no alternative solutions. Flexibility in funding is surely a good thing.


Of course it doesn’t matter to the unions that Hekia Parata says it isn’t bulk-funding.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said in a statement the new proposal was not bulk funding.

“Bulk funding is not on the agenda. All of the proposed directions for change, and the relevant background papers which are publicly available, are up for discussion with the advisory group, on which the PPTA are represented, and the wider education sector in the coming months.”

The Principals Union and the NZEI are also opposed of course.

I wonder when we will get a government that will stand up to these ratbags and tell them that they are state sector employees and they will do what they are told.


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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.