It’s not surprising that only a third of schools eligible for the Government’s school donations scheme have taken it up given how unfair and complicated the policy is, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Despite promising to end all school donations, the Government’s school donations policy only covers deciles one to seven, leaving disadvantaged families in schools with high decile ratings in the lurch.

“Principals are starting to see the fishhooks in the Government’s policy. As a result of the new definition and enforcement of guidance, which covers all schools, some schools will have to find funds for stationery, workbooks and day trips because the Ministry considers some of these to be core curriculum and others not.

“Schools in higher deciles feel as though they have been shafted. Not only did the Education Minister exclude them from the policy, but the Ministry is also enforcing new guidance around what schools can or cannot charge, which sees some schools predicting they will lose tens of thousands of dollars.

“One school has estimated it could be $150,000 worse off as a result of both being excluded from the scheme and the enforcement of new guidance on donations. National raised these issues in select committee but the Government refused to listen.

“It’s clear the policy is inequitable and difficult to implement, which is why it’s no surprise schools aren’t jumping to take up the scheme yet. Some schools are still working out how out of pocket they will be, and whether they will have to cut how they provide education in other areas.

“After two years of delays the Minister has admitted the decile system is flawed but is still proceeding with a donations policy based on the decile system.

“The Government has created a very difficult situation for principals and boards who are dealing with parents with high expectations, but the reality is a number of schools are working out they will be worse off as a result of enforcing the new rules and the payment not covering what they ask for now.”

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