Bulk Funding

October 17th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

Anne Tolley will announce a progressive introduction of for starting soon with the staffing component for guidance and careers counsellors being abolished and a small increase going into the bulk operations grant.

Now it comes from Trevor, so it is hardly reliable, but we can all keep our fingers crossed that it is actually true.

Bulk funding is in fact how almost every other part of society operates.

Hospitals don’t have their staff paid out of one budget on a fixed scale, and an operations grant for everything else.

Universities don’t have their staff paid out of one budget, and an ops grant for everything else.

It is pretty much only in the school sector that you have this abnormal arrangement.

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28 Responses to “Bulk Funding”

  1. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    Sound like Trvs flying a kite on potential Labor policy!
    Hope it happens.

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  2. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    I chair a school board of trustees… and I’d be stoked to have this SO LONG AS it’s not used as a lever to lower our funding levels. Education in NZ is free in name only. In practice schools already rely heavily on ‘donations’ and other sources of funds to make ends meet. So most school board would welcome the idea of increased flexibility in the applciation of funding, but have a wary eye open for their pockets being cleverly ‘picked’.

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  3. Greg BB (32 comments) says:

    This is an argument I’ve had with a lot of people. I’m generally in favour of the idea of bulk funding but I did hear one really good counter argument. Bulk funding id fine for the decile 10 schools that have a quality board that will decide how to spend it appropriately, but what about lower decile schools who don’t attract the same level of experienced board members? They will suffer. Now how would you address this?

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  4. freedom101 (504 comments) says:

    I don’t like their chances. “Progressive introduction” sounds very much to me like testing the water. Prediction: The unions will mount a furious campaign and Tolley will be called off by JK. One thing you never do is announce to your opponents what you intend, and then go in limp-wristed.

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  5. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Greg BB – yes a fair point. But it’s not just decile-related. I’ve helped out with a decile 8 school here in Wellington, and to be honest I wouldn’t leave them in charge of the money for school lunches . Equally, I’ve just come back from a visit to a rural school (think it’s decile 3 or 4) and the board there are very switched on.

    The NZ School Trustees Association run some pretty good on-site and distance training courses. This training currently is more focused on educational outcomes and governance self-review. IMO that could be broadened to include more financial management topics.

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  6. Steve (4,563 comments) says:

    “Now it comes from Trevor, so it is hardly reliable, but we can all keep our fingers crossed that it is actually true.”
    Trevor is a good Politician and is always fair to everyone, why would it not be true?

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  7. Whafe (650 comments) says:

    Steve – each to their own, but sheesh you are full of shit that Big Trev is a good politician & is always fair….

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  8. petal (706 comments) says:

    Trev’s a lovable rogue. He’s full of shit most of the time, but he still scores enough points, and does so in a certain manner, that you can’t help but like him. He’s full of shit, and works for the wrong crowd, but still… ;)

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  9. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Greg BB – well what you do with lower decile schools is put them under the board/management of the higher decile schools. Have scholastic principles and property (for lack of a better word) managers. Good property managers could look after several schools and the scholastic principles cold look after curiculum.
    ie Use people to do what they are trained for. Teaxchers dont get training to look after properties and understand legal agreements – use people who are trained for that to do that part of it.

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  10. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Trev reckons Tolley promised pre-election not to move toward bulk funding, so would be breaking an election promise.

    edit: and Google (why not) seems to agree.

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  11. Greg BB (32 comments) says:

    getstaffed – fair point, I was generalising.

    Barry – interesting. But that looks a lot like appointing people from outside the school to manage their funding – which is what bulk funding is about avoiding in the first place. Generally, those inside the school are best placed to decide where funds need to be spent. getstaffed’s idea of the NZ Board of Trustees association offering assistance looks promising, but you’d have to ensure any training offered actually got results – a lot easier said than done.

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  12. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    starting soon with the staffing component for guidance and careers counsellors being abolished

    Hopefully this means Boards will be able to be rid of those guidance counsellors who are nothing more than failed classroom teachers given a safe berth by Principals and Boards too scared of the unions to sack them (note: I’m by no means saying all guidance counsellors are like this, but I’ve seen a few that fit the description in my time).

    I wonder if this signals a move towards a bulk grant covering all operations including teacher salaties and the ability for Boards (with appropriate professional advice from the Principal and using proper assessment tools) to be allowed to start paying on performance? Surely accountability isn’t about to hit the last sector of NZ society entirely insulated from it?!

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  13. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    The PPTA and NZEI will fight this to the bitter end – bulk funding would totally gut their power.

    Difference between teaching and other occupations is that ‘qualifications’ and ‘experience’ as measured in years of service just about drives teachers pay scales and progression. In most other jobs, qualifications play a relatively small part (except for doctors, lawyers, etc), employers want people who can handle the work.

    In the old days there were ‘inspectors’ who came round and assess schools and teachers (Sir Robert Stout as a schoolboy was asked by his teacher to row the inspector to a small island near Lerwick (Shetland Islands) where there was a small school). Nowadays ERO merely looks at the paperwork, if the paperwork is right then the teachers and school are OK.

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  14. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    My advice on this is: don’t think bulk funding; think bulk underfunding.

    plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…

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  15. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    idea of the NZ Board of Trustees association offering assistance looks promising, but you’d have to ensure any training offered actually got results – a lot easier said than done.

    re getting results, yes training is one part. The other is execution. An idea… perhaps we could have a standardised chart of accounts with, say, a bulk deal with Xero. That could be interesting.

    It would be possible to add some off-system benchmarking analysis so that Boards could review their spending relative to groups of other similar* schools.

    This is the 21st century and we should be looking for the modern tools like Xero to help boards collaborate, share best practice and, importantly, get early signals if/when spending trends depart from established benchmarks. The net effect of this approach could be for Boards to gain some benefit from the wisdom of other Boards.

    *similar could be by district/schools cluster, roll size, decile rating

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  16. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    LUC has it in spades. – simple we underfund.
    It is a sausage machine.
    How much does it really cost to make a sausage?
    So we should fund all schools properly to make sausages, we owe it to all our kids.

    Then add money for lower decile schools whose parents need oversight as they don’t have the bus backgrounds or skills in the community to do what’s needed.
    Rem the principals are key, if they don’t want it, it won’t happen.

    All we do right now with the decile system is double tax parents who are already putting more in and that is morally wrong, not that you’d get agreement from the envy crowd.

    We might also reward the really good teachers and Principals and move out those who never will fit, but to do that as peterwyn says will be very hard.
    Maybe ACT’s idea of money for each Bum on a seat is the better option as it would give more power to parents over the Union.

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  17. kiki (425 comments) says:

    Bulk funding doesn’t fix the problem of choice.

    The state should provide the ability to choose but get out of the monopoly of supply.

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  18. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Are any of the above posters actually, like, teachers?

    Just asking. I’m not, but SWMBO is :-)

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  19. kiki (425 comments) says:

    MikeNZ it is ACT and Maori party policy to fund the student and allow them to choose. I thought that in the position these parties have found themselves they would logically work with what they have in common to get these out of national but it appears that rugby coverage and councils take precedence to educating our children.

    Rodney is trapped by Epson. If these changes were made, zoning would go, children would be selected on merit, disaster would befall the upper middle class.

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  20. BLiP (24 comments) says:

    If you support the bulk funding of one operation of government, then that logic should apply across all government functions, right? So, lets set up Consumer Boards at every Police Station, ACC office, WINZ office and the rest of them and then bulk fund the lot . . . what a pretty picture that would be!

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  21. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    “Nowadays ERO merely looks at the paperwork, if the paperwork is right then the teachers and school are OK.”

    Rubbish. An education review officer came into my primary classroom this year and observed for 45 minutes and then sat and went through all my paperwork (planning and assessment). Principals or their deputies/assistants usually appraise teachers (observe and read through paperwork) twice a year as well, as is the case in my school.

    In a small country of 4 million, state school teacher salaries are best paid out of the central pot at the Ministry of Education. Schools are for teaching and learning, and it would be a huge waste in administration costs if each individual school was dissolved responsibility for paying teacher salaries. It’s fairer if Nanny divvies out the pay from the central pot, not thousands of different pots with thousands of different rules and huge inconsistency between schools.

    I’m confident that teachers and their unions would put up a hell of a fight if this is ever tampered with by the tories.

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  22. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    Mikenz – low decile schools already get significant greater funding than high decile schools to compensate for their ‘disadvantages’. The high decile schools have to go cap in hand to parents to get this ‘extra’ funding – some do willingly, some do through clenched teeth, some blather on about ‘free education’ and a few just do not pay up.

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  23. southtop (265 comments) says:

    This is nightmare for all.
    Bulk funding enables schools to lower teachers real salaries. The salaries go into the pot as competition for things like computers etc. This will evenually see lower quality teachers for our children. HOWEVER we need a clean out of these low quality teachers now.
    Tolley is off the mark here with her tactics as she is starting in the wrong place. Since 2004 the Ministry of Ed has gone from approximately 500 staff to around 2450 plus a new beast called the Tertiary Ed Comm.
    Tolley should sort this lot first then give parents vouchers to spend their taxes where they want and put in place a bonus system for good teachers. This way she can hang onto the centralised salary payments and parents get what they want.
    PS: a teacher bonus system is in place at a Poly in NZ but it appears they had to clear out the ‘deadwood’ first. Whiteria (rotorua) is doing this with the unions ok. They cleared the deadwood as they tend to be the negative word of mouth developers that kill a market where students have choices.

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  24. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Kuc
    No we just pay their salaries.

    Peterwn
    Yes I know I made mention of this double taxation yesterday.
    Time it must stop.
    Parents paying for private schools also pay twice and don’t use the state facilities, so should rightly be able to claim the fees off of income tax per child.

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  25. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    It’s a shame none of the antis cant start the debate with “Bulk funding is bad for students because…”. Of course the only angle is the red herring of “they’ll cut education funding” which is code for “salaries for some teachers might go down which is bad because….well BECAUSE”.

    Education is for students not teachers and certainly not unions.

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  26. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    southtop,

    PS: a teacher bonus system is in place at a Poly in NZ

    Details? Where?

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  27. southtop (265 comments) says:

    Waiariki Poly Rotorua I beleive. not big but teachers are supposed to get 0%, 1% or 2% of their salary as a bonus based on performance. Would like to know how it is measured and why/how the TEU let this through.

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  28. John W (5 comments) says:

    Kiwiblog looses credibility. The ranting slogans and clap trap about economic management of Education in the bulk funding arguments are old worn out excuses for shafting state schools.

    The looney right still have a great following in KiwiBlog it would seem although that is not what the voters stand behind. Act are only there because of a technicality where as Winston who has done a lot for NZ is not.
    National got in though deceiving NZ that the hard right wing agenda was not in their plans. Tax cuts for all ????? Where!

    Taxes will be up for all but the very rich. Pensioners have had their tax rate increased from 19.5% to 21 % and on top of that GST increase will erode their private pension schemes they have paid into for their career lifetime

    Now it is time to attack schools again and attempts to divert thinking away from the real damage are centred on union bashing. Child bashing is more like it.

    Most children attend state schools and the strengths of our NZ society has grown because of that education system.
    Bulk funding is an ideological mechanism that, if implemented will erode schools. Some BOTs have very limited understanding of the long term effect of changing teacher’s pay downwards, which is what bulk funding does in practice.

    When the Ministry of Education devolves itself from responsibilities through bulk finding, accumulated fiscal restraint imposed on BOTs will far outweigh any perceived short term gains that appeal to some Principals.

    Schools are pretty much alone without an effective managing body to guide and support them. STA is a joke and does whatever the govt dictates.

    The unions cry out because there is no one else left to do so.
    Do you love your kids or is the game played with idealogical hard line more important. There are a lot of snap opinions without any in depth knowledge or experience in State Education.

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