Schools learn how much funding they will receive under new Equity Index

Tai Tokerau schools, which have the highest regional average Equity Index score, will receive the largest average funding increase of around $226.11 per student, as schools and kura around the country finally learn how much money they will receive under the Equity Index funding system.

It’s been a nervous wait for schools who were notified on Thursday morning how much money the equity scores they received in July would generate them in equity funding, with almost 90 per cent of schools seeing their funding increased.

The Equity Index (EQI) aims to better identify and respond to the socio-economic barriers facing student achievement than its predecessor, and to allocate resources where they are most needed.

It will replace the outdated decile system which was considered to be an outdated crude measure, unfairly stigmatized low decile schools and was erroneously used as a proxy for school quality.

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Ministry of Education

The Ministry’s senior policy manager, funding policy Alanna Sullivan-Vaughan outlines how the new index works.

Thirty-seven socio-economic factors ranging from parent education levels and benefit history, through to Oranga Tamariki notifications and student transience were used to calculate schools’ EQI number – between 344 and 569 for each school.

This number, generated using anonymised data, represented the barriers students faced to educational achievement, providing more targeted equity funding to those with higher numbers, and were therefore facing the largest barriers.

On average, equity funding made up about 3.8% of a school’s total operational funding.

While the vast majority of schools will see their funding lift, a small proportion of schools will see their funding cut, however any funding drops from 2024 will be capped at 5% per year from a school’s operation grant. No school or kura will see their equity and isolation funding next year.

Tai Tokerau, Hawke’s Bay/Tairawhiti and Bay of Plenty/Waiariki have the highest average level of socio-economic disadvantages with 506, 491 and 489 respectively, while regions under the national average of 463 included Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast (456), Otago/Southland and Wellington (450).

Auckland and Canterbury/Chatham Islands had the lowest with 444.

Another 47,000 students will be able to access support through the school donations scheme, and a further 3000 children will be able to get free school lunches in the Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches program under the EQI, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“What the Equity Index does is give use a much better picture based on much better data of which students need extra resources and because of that we’re able to invest more in the right places,” Hipkins said.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the Equity Index presents a much better picture of where resourcing needs to go.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the Equity Index presents a much better picture of where resourcing needs to go.

Schools and kura with EQI numbers of 432 and above – equating to 155 schools and almost 47,000 students – will be able to join the School Donations Scheme from next year. Schools that enter the scheme will be $154.13 per student by the Government, while those that don’t choose to enter can ask parents to make voluntary donations.

Under the current decile system, decile 1-7 schools could opt in to the School Donations Scheme in exchange for not asking for donations except for school camp payments, while decile 8-10 schools could ask parents for donations.

The Ministry of Education has also revealed changes to the Isolation Index which has been used in its current form to determined resourcing to small and isolated schools since 2001.

The Ministry of Education's Isolation Index is also being updated, a system used to fund small, rural schools.  (File photo)

Quentin Jones/Stuff

The Ministry of Education’s Isolation Index is also being updated, a system used to fund small, rural schools. (File photo)

“What the Isolation Index does is that it measures the relative degree of isolation a school is over how far away it is from population centers of certain sizes, and that’s important because we know that more isolated schools and kura face higher costs for certain things, for example, accessing trades [people] and alike,” explained John Brooker, the Ministry of Education’s group manager, education system policy.

Unlike the current Isolation Index which used 2001 census and old road data, the refreshed Isolation Index will use data from the 2018 census, as well as data and travel time analysis from 2020, increase its accuracy.

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said the extension of both indexes were “further evidence” the Government was putting the wellbeing of children and families at the heart of its work, “helping to make everyday life more affordable for parents”.

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