Schools' fundraising success depends on decile

Editorial

BY MATTHEW DALLAS
Last updated 09:04 30/10/2012

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OPINION: When assigning stories for this week's edition I thought 'heck, it's the Kapi-Mana school fundraiser special'.

Paremata School kicked off the gala season on Saturday, Discovery School held a WOW-style fashion event last week and Mungavin Kindergarten opened its new playground - largely funded by 15 years of gala takings.

The mother of all local school fairs - Pauatahanui School Lamb & Calf Day - is on this weekend, as is a Plimmerton Kindergarten kitchen tour, which we also previewed.

For a community newspaper, such events are our bread and butter but they can also be a pain in the butt.

Finding fresh angles for 'old school' events can be tricky and there's no way we can get to them all.

Some readers likely feel the same way. Fundraiser fatigue can set in and we can forget how important these events are to the schools, their community, and the incredible amount of organisation and goodwill that goes into them.

At a time when teachers are either having their pay packet screwed up or their spirit crushed by National Standards rankings, I wanted to take a few column centimetres to tip our hats to the staff, parents and students helping to feed school coffers.

Of course, the playing field across the city is not equal. The number of fundraising events keeps increasing, but it's often the same schools in the same neighbourhoods, where the deciles are high and government funding lower.

The New Zealand Education Institute magazine Education Aotearoa raised some interesting observations last month about decile funding and the impact of fundraising - food for thought next time you're munching on candy floss at a school fair.

Its survey of five decile 1 and five decile 10 schools in Auckland suggested the extra funding per pupil the government gives to low decile schools was insufficient to bridge the gap created by what one principal described as 'the fundraising economy' of high decile schools.

When all income streams were considered, Decile 10 schools brought in $8653 on average per pupil, compared to $7518 per pupil at decile 1 schools.

Fundraising at high-decile schools was often run by "power mums", former executives with time on their hands, able to bring in the big coin. At low- decile schools 'parent help' was just as likely to mean school programmes to help parents rather than vice versa.

Principals at low decile schools said their children regularly start school two years behind "normal" levels. Their needs were immediate and overwhelming, leaving little time for fundraising.

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