School deciles

Choosing the right school

Deciles and decile ratings are two terms we as parents hear a lot but what do they mean?¬† Find out and learn what deciles mean for your child’s school.¬†

What are deciles?

You may have heard the term ‚Äėdecile‚Äô or ‚Äėdecile rating‚Äô being bandied about when talking with others about schools and education. It is a term used often but not always understood.

Deciles are otherwise known as Socio-Economic Decile Bands which gives you some indication of what they are all about.

A decile is a group into which similar schools in New Zealand are placed.

Schools are grouped in a way that reflects the average family or whanau situations and socio-economic backgrounds of the students at that school.

In other words the decile rating a school is given relates to the economic and social factors of the community.

There are ten deciles starting with decile one and moving through to decile ten. A decile is a statistical term, meaning that a group or population has been divided into ten equally sized groups, giving ten deciles.

Hence about 10% of schools are grouped within each decile; for example there are approximately 10% of New Zealand schools grouped in the decile two category and so on.

Schools in decile one have the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic backgrounds while schools in decile ten have the highest proportion of students from high socio-economic backgrounds.

What factors make up the decile?

There are five specific factors that are taken into account when deciding on the decile rating of a school. These are:

  • Household income – percentage of households with income in the lowest 20% nationally.
  • Occupation – percentage of employed parents in the lowest skilled occupational groups.
  • Household crowding – number of people in the household divided by the number of bedrooms.
  • Educational qualifications – percentage of parents with no tertiary or school qualifications.
  • Income support – percentage of parents who received a benefit in the previous year.

So poorer communities with fewer qualifications and lower incomes are likely to be in Decile One, whilst wealthier communities with more qualifications and higher incomes are likely to be in Decile 10.

Some Examples of Different Decile Ratings

To give you an idea of how the ratings apply in real life, here are some examples of Decile 1 and Decile 10 schools:

Decile 1

Northland College, Kaikohe

Ferguson Intermediate, Otara

Porirua College, Wellington

Phillipstown School, Christchurch

Decile 10

Devonport School, Auckland

Ponsonby Primary School, Auckland

Matua School, Tauranga

Karori Normal School, Wellington

Cashmere Primary, Christchurch

Why are schools grouped like this?

Schools are grouped into deciles for funding reasons. Deciles allow the Ministry of Education to allocate funding in the fairest way. The lower the school’s decile rating the more funding it will be given.

The greater amount of funding given to lower decile schools allows them to cover the increased learning needs of students who attend their school.

Does the decile of a school tell me anything about the quality of the education at that school?

Absolutely not. Deciles are a funding mechanism only and in no way reflect the quality of the education delivered at that school.

Are there any other Implications of Deciles for us?

The major implication will be the amount of funding given to the school by the government.  As a general overview, more money per child will be provided to Decile 1 schools, than to Decile 10 schools.  As a result, you will often find that parents of children at higher decile schools will be asked to contribute more in terms of fees, donations, time and equipment.

How do I find out what decile rating my child/ren’s school has been given?

There are several ways you can find out the decile rating of the school your child attends or you intend for him/her to attend:

Related information: Check out our School Enrolment & Zoning article.

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Kylie Valentine

Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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