Red Alert

Bulk funding – more than the thin end of the wedge

Posted by on May 26th, 2010

Remember the education debate of the 1990s – bulk funding, Remember the solemn promise of Anne Tolley before the election not to go there again. Well she has.

In the budget detail we discover that schools are allowed to drop their staffing 10% below the staffing schedule minima and cash up the difference.

And they are allowed to cash up their property money instead of doing the capital works that the money is allocated for.

I don’t think that funding to either area is so generous that it is appropriate to divert it.

It isn’t just the thin end of the wedge – it is all the change the bulk funders want except the right to reduce teachers’ pay.

30 Responses to “Bulk funding – more than the thin end of the wedge”

  1. Spud says:

    👿 !!!!!!

  2. Phil Lyth says:

    Trevor, what limits are there on what the cashed-up dosh can be used for? And who gets to decide on how to use it? Could for instance a Board of Trustees decide they need a 7-day team-building event in Sydney???

  3. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    What it means is that previously Staffing funding allways went into salaries, now 10% can go into general funds, say to pay the extra GST ?

  4. Loota says:

    I’m sure that going back on one’s pre-election promises like this is an offence to any moral compass.

  5. mickysavage says:

    They are very clever at nibbling around the edges and making changes they can then say do not break the solemn promises that they previously made.

    And then they argue voiciferously and the swinging voter switches off without noticing that the damage has happened.

    Very clever but totally immoral.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Clever perhaps but hardly immoral considering that politics almost precludes one’s sense of a sound moral base and further, that morality where politics is concerned is determined more by outcomes rather than means to.

    I don’t know enough about the pros & cons of bulk funding except that when I was a student we got our student loans in lump sums which led to an increase of a few scammers and when this was replaced by the system Labour put in place there was still an increase in scammers.

    Perhaps what each department does with the money is more important than what form it receives it…after all, the CEOs of these departments are in Labour’s view, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars plus bonuses per annum.

  7. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    I wonder if its a two way street, ie if the roll drops you can keep the funding and say pay for the same number of staff or if its a system of only diverting the money when your roll is the same or greater- my guess, its the latter, no free ride

  8. Trevor Mallard says:

    @ Phil – nothing stopping that and one of the bulk funded schools leased a box for a rugby season.

  9. Loota says:

    Trevor, surely innovation and flexibility should be congratulated! None of this central regulationand oversight nonsense.

  10. BLiP says:

    The private schools must be rubbing their grubby hands together in glee – just before cashing in and calling their brokers, of course.

  11. Jen says:

    Rebecca, What nonsense to say that politics precludes almost any sort of sound moral base. Even sillier to say that because of that incorrect premise a political act can’t be judged in terms of its morality. I can think of any number of immoral political acts myself.

  12. SPC says:

    It’s just part of the campaign to offer restraint on wages (or capital works) as the saving to afford operating costs. Thus National can restrict funding to education for a few years (until capital works and teacher retention become urgent) and claim to have delivered greater efficiency/value for money.

    Of course Labour is left to boost operating costs to enable the capital budget to be used for its purpose (there will be years of under-investment to catch up on as well). Also there is the cost of belatedly boosting wages. This National will call Labour being a spend-thrift and when returned to power the same cycle will resume again.

  13. Loota says:

    SPC – the first step in avoiding a trap is…knowing of its existence.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Jen: well I suppose that would depend on what your definition of morality is…..

    Morality, being a rather ambiguous term that is hugely subjective when it comes to ones personal experiences, is usually something that exists outside of etiquette, law & the a social code of conduct.

    Mickysavage above stated the National Party are “immoral”…

    By definition immoral means not conforming to accepted standards of morality (which usually exist outside politics).

    Unless he meant they are amoral – that is, not concerned with morality?

  15. Tracey says:

    Is this similar to, or is it the actual thing, the announcement about changing funding from yearly (from March) to quarterly, so schools only get money per student bottom on seat?

    I listened to a little of this the other day. While I can perhaps concede we oughtn’t pay for students who are no longer there, is it fair to say there will usually be more students between Feb and March, than, say, June and July or Sept and October (attrition?)?

    My concern was/is that teacher allocations will be made to cope with the maximum number expected, if that number declines, teachers will still teach, but the income to pay those salaries will have declined?

    Anne Tolley suggested this will act as an incentive to schools to keep students in school. Does this mean schools will divert duns to chasing absentee students (long terms) to get their bums on a seat in time for the quarterly reporting, it would seem measures to keep students in school falls to someone other than the school in many respects? I guess I mean is it for schools to concentrate on this aspect of school marketing?

    Given the new NS, and the focus of teachers on getting students to those, when can they turn the room into an adcventure theme park to make students stay at school?

  16. Tracey says:


    “exists outside of etiquette, law & the a social code of conduct”

    certain laws conform to this idea of morality… and as morality changes (which it does) so do those laws

    racial discrimination
    sexual harassment etc…

    I wonder if it is fair to say that much of morailty has a judeo-christian foundation?

    I thought, for example, that morality had found its way to parliament when whatshisname (Heatley) resigned, but then he was asked back and accepted…

  17. Rebecca says:

    I always thought morality in terms of an accepted code of conduct was part and parcel of politics until Clint Rickards remained on the pay roll for 3 years, Mr Fields was able to remain in parliament despite a pending trial & Mr Peters was able to keep his portfolios despite his various antics.

    It would seem anything is up for grabs when it comes to political expediency.

    Something that, I might add, Machiavelli put above morality…..

  18. Tracey says:


    Accepted codes of conduct rarely work. In sport for years “what happened on tour stayed on tour”… of course that was to protect philandering. JOurnalists played that game too…

    Recently during the stoush over the allegation of NZ Maori being asked to drop a gane against SA, a highy respected maori player was interviewed.

    Toward the end he said about whether the bishop was telling the truth that he couldnt see why the bishop would make it up… he then siad “but these guys were really honest” ” if they had been told not to say anything, they wouldn’t have”. I hope he mix up honest with loyal… but interesting sentiment

  19. waterboy says:

    Cash strapped schools or those in financial difficulties will use this opportunity. It only makes sense, after all Labour will be in one day and will change this back, why not run down teh buildings now to get more computers for teh students. Labour will fix the damage done now when they get back in.

    Its the think about now, dont worry about tommorrow thing that National does so well.

  20. Rebecca says:

    Waterboy: “why not run down teh buildings now to get more computers for teh students. Labour will fix the damage done now when they get back in”.

    Tell that to the high schools in Upper Hutt who under Labour were subjected to a 5 year freeze on funding while everyone argued about whether to merge them so as to create a super school…something NO ONE in the community wanted.

    In the meantime the condition of these school deteriorated.

    Six of one half dozen of the other if you ask me.

  21. waterboy says:

    Fair point Rebecca.

    Trevor did close some schools, to the detriment of rural communities where i live.

    But more damage has been done to NZ education by right policies than left (personal view only).

  22. Trevor Mallard says:

    Rebecca the reason it took so long to unfreeze them was because it took the community that long to come to the point where they decided that they wanted four post primary schools.

    And waterboy – there is a real call about the level of educational sacrifice that is acceptable in order to maintain communities. There is always a point of balance and a big range of views.

  23. SPC says:

    The Upper Hutt case was an interesting one – effectively the programme to close schools came to an end with the proposal to close some of the area’s primary schools. Local opposition did not just question the local proposal but the premise of the entire nationwide programme. I know because I took that position in my own representations to the PM.

    I have alsways suspected that the decision to then review the post primary AND freeze capital spending in the 2 intermediates and secondary schools was part of some vendetta by the education ministry out to extract its pound of flesh – some saving on education costs in the area.

    Their idea was to use public land at the former CIT site for a school for all local post primary pupils and sell off the “education” land of the 4 schools for real estate. Thus extract some capital from the region – which made the new school a profitable deal especially when upgrade of the existing schools was deferred for years while it wass being proposed and then built.

    The irony was that in the end only the principals saw merit in the idea – because it meant new facilities supplemented by the promise of new technology and when the community was finally consulted people were generally opposed to it – cramming that many pupils into one not so large site (limited sports field capacity etc) and closing off potential to use an existing asset (CIT) for new purposes.

    One has to give National credit for spotting an opportunity and doing right by the area and providing sufficient money to upgrade the existing schools. The Labour government had decided on a lower amount and only said that there would be more later.

  24. SPC says:

    PS If the public had been informed about what was being proposed and that upgrade of the existing schools would be neglected for years before any decision was made – there would have been immediate communitry opposition, and principals would probably refused to become involved at all.

  25. Rebecca says:

    Trevor – that’s interesting however, it differs to many people I know who have been affected by it.

    SPC. Interesting. In terms of the primary schools -yes, some beaut wee schools came very close to be being shut down.

    My understanding was that the affected communities made a song & dance and managed to hold this off and are now doing very well and in fact, we were even lucky enough to have the Prime Minister visit them yesterday (while he was apparently very agitated with Bill English!).

  26. Tracey says:

    Well, let’s remember that the Govt has allocated over $100m of the capital grant to “fixing” leaky schools. You all would be horrified to see the UNNECESSARY repairs (and associated costs) being done to these buildings… the five companies which won the contracts with Ministry of Ed have NO incentive to recommend anything other than the school version of a “reclad”.

    I would rather see proper investigation of the actual problems using up-to-date technology, then targeted repairs, and free up the rest of the money for those buildings around the country which REALLY need updating.

    Another scandal… of course Labour wont bring this up or challenge it because they know they stood by and watched while the problem got worse.

  27. Trevor Mallard says:

    Be a bit fair Tracey. I can only remember two schools one in Papamoa and a relativelt small fire damage related partial rebuild in the Hutt being drawn to my attention as being leaky building type problems.

    Certainly wasn’t seen to be the systemic problem it is now.

  28. Tracey says:

    Iguess I meant the entire leaky hoe saga Trevor. I know what started it, and that doesnt lie at Labour’s door… but Clark famously stated that this was mountain out of molehill stuff, and it wasn’t isnt.

    Nonetheless Trevor, take a peek at the MOE process for appointment of people to examine the schools, and their quality control over them…and watch while none of these schools get assessed as needing minor or targeted repairs. There’s another rort on the horizon.

  29. SPC says:

    Rebecca, in the case of the primary schools the proposed closure of some of the schools was based on inaccurate population forecasts. All one had to do was pose why not deal with the problem of falling pupil numbers when they occur – that is plan for a change once the evidence is in and keep the schools open for now.

    As it was only one schhol (without a significant community of interest) needed to be closed because of falling pupil numbers.

    Otherwise there were community of interest schools – the fate of which would be determined by the committment of the parents – they can be offered amalgamation with cost savings retained in the local education (the merged school being well provded for). If the agenda of the education ministry is to improve education and provide choice then there is no problem with reviews. But if they are to simply save money, then communities are upset.

  30. Alan says:

    Tolley and NACT appear to be operating from a badly informed advice base. Evidence demonstrated that bulk funding didn’t work as a means of running a school to deliver high quality education services efficiently and the national standards policy has its wheels falling off as the prime architect of the policy publishes a book refuting the entire policy and programme as an educational crock.
    What is it about NACT that it wants to reintroduce failure from discredited policies to New Zealand?