Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced today the release of school donations scheme whereby Decile 1-7 schools will be given an option to opt in to receive funding from the government $150 per student every school year.

This will result in opting-schools from not asking for voluntary donations from the parents of the students.

“We’re taking significant financial pressure off many Kiwi families by taking care of school donations, with Decile 1-7 schools able to opt in to receive $150 per student every school year,” Chris Hipkins said.

Around 1700 schools will soon be able to opt in to receive additional funding from the government.

Currently, education in any New Zealand state-school is completely free, although many schools request parents to contribute through a once a year voluntary donation of $150.

Today’s announcement will potentially take away that burden from parents of many schools, as long as schools opt-in to the government’s donation scheme.

“We know how difficult it is for parents to afford the donations that schools request, and the pressure it places on parents who aren’t able to afford them. Many students will now be able to get the education they need with less financial pressure on their parents.

“The release of requirements for schools today clarifies for Decile 1-7 school boards what they need to consider before deciding whether or not to opt in to the scheme.

Guidance for Parents has also been released by the Ministry of Education to educate parents what they can be asked to pay for, and what is simply voluntary.

The guidance for parents document also says that parents can attend the school board meeting where they will be discussing whether to opt-in or not if they wish to attend.

The opting-in schools can still ask for a voluntary donation for an overnight school camp, although it is for parents to decide to contribute or not.

Meanwhile, the schools not opting-in the government scheme for additional funding will continue to ask for a voluntary donation. 

Although regardless of schools are opting-in or not from the government scheme, donations are voluntary, and so one can choose if they want to pay none, some or the entire donation.

If parents choose not to make a donation, their child cannot be stopped from attending a camp or field trip if it is part of the core learning programme (curriculum).

Labour Party has campaigned last elections on scrapping of school donations and had earmarked $265.6 million in budget 2019 for next four years to put an end on voluntary school donations.

However, this offer was not made available to Decile 8-10 schools.

Earlier in July 2019 the New Zealand Principals' Federation has criticised the government decision to leave out Decile 8-10 schools.

Schools have until November 14 to decide whether or not to opt in to the scheme and those who sign up will receive their funding in early 2020.

The Ministry of Education will monitor schools that opt in to ensure they do not continue to seek donations from parents.