With the latest census completed, it won't be long before every principal in the country will get a letter which will tell them the news of their latest decile ranking. The ranking will either stay the same or it will go up which means less money but good PR because you can say "Yeah - look at us -we've gone up from a decile 5 to a 6. Or it will go down and that means more money but you will keep quiet about it just in case the community sees it as a fall from grace.
The decile ratings are determined by the census data showing the wealth of the families within the school. They have absolutely nothing to do with how well or otherwise the school is doing.
The government needs the decile ratings - absolutely but only for funding purposes - of course, decile one schools need more funding than decile 10 schools - that just makes sense. The tragedy is that the decile ratings define the school. Who needs the information that actually the poorest families send their kids to this school and the wealthiest families send their kids to that school --- certainly not the kids at the school.
I am reminded of a great conversation I had with a young woman in Year 9 at Ngaruawahia High School. I had done my usual rant about what a great school we were in, great teachers etc etc. After the assembly she came up to me this young woman and asked _"Ms Cavanagh, is this the best school in New Zealand ?" I thought for a while and then answered "Well, you know I have been in lots of schools in New Zealand and actually yes - I think it is - I really do think it is the best school."
Her face lit up "Chaa" she said, "Chaa".
Funnily enough I didn't tell her that this was a decile one school. I was the principal, she was the student. She was at the best school!!!! And that's where the story ends.