Final Report from IPPN (Ireland)
If there is one common global issue dear to the hearts of principals, it surely is that of school funding. The Resourcing Schools Project has grown from an ICP Council decision to develop a position on school resourcing. The ICP Executive extended that decision when they argued that a simple position paper by itself was not sufficient. They argued that a more energetic strategy aimed at convincing government or governing authorities to provide the resources required to achieve the outcomes expected of schools, was thought to be able to deliver a greater chance of achieving our overall objective – adequate resources to schools. It was decided to develop a strategy that could be used by those ICP member associations that chose to do so in their own country.
The strategy has two elements.
A paper has been developed (59Kb pdf file) which outlines the key issues in the area, along with outlining some directions for action. The paper draws heavily from recent research and world trends in school resourcing. It deals with both the amount of resources that are required, and the ability of the school to determine how to use the resources available to it.
The second element is an approach to providing governments or governing authorities with evidence about how much it costs to educate students to a desired standard. The paper mentioned above describes the approach described in the second element as providing evidence of the cost of the core educational provision (ie: educating those students with few impediments to learning to an excellent standard) and providing evidence of the cost of programs aimed improving the equity provision for those students with impediments to learning.
The core provision and equity provision framework is a useful way of approaching the issues surrounding school resourcing. This approach involves gathering data from schools on i) what it is spending on educating students with few impediments to learning, to an excellent standard; and ii) what a school is spending to overcome the impediments to learning which reside in their students. This approach does not ascertain the source of the resources being used. It focuses solely on the resources expended on supporting the teaching and learning of students in the school.
The schools selected for estimating the cost of the core educational function should be schools that are considered to be those achieving excellent learning outcomes. They will be the top achieving schools in the nation.
The schools selected for estimating the cost of the equity function should be those schools who are achieving excellent outcomes with students who have impediments to their learning. These may be programs aimed at overcoming socio-economic disadvantage and so on. It may be argued that there are no programs existing in that nation which provide programs that provide an adequate approach to overcoming equity issues. If that is the case, then the member association may wish to enter into a collaboration with researchers so that a way forward is determined. Member associations may wish to contact the ICP Secretariat for further advice in this matter. Some research work involving ICP member associations is currently proceeding using this model.
The ICP, in collaboration with a well respected researcher in the area, Jim Spinks, has developed a tool for measuring school expenditure patterns. It is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, and there are both primary (230Kb xls file) and secondary (231Kb xls file) school versions. The spreadsheets have been trialled and do deliver detailed evidence of what it takes, in resource terms, to educate students to an excellent level. Also included in the survey instrument is a section which allows schools to estimate the number of hours of voluntary work provided by parents and the community in assisting the school to deliver its teaching and learning outcomes. A set of instructions for using the spreadsheets has also been prepared (93Kb pdf file).
Associations wishing to use these spreadsheets should email the ICP Secretariat for further advice.