Tell Chris Hipkins to leave our kids alone.

Charter Schools: An Overview

Charter schools play an important role...With the flexibility to develop new methods for educating our youth, and to develop remedies that could help underperforming schools, these innovative and autonomous public schools often offer lessons that can be applied in other institutions of learning...including in traditional public schools — Barack Obama

Since 2014, Kiwi parents have been able to choose charter schools that best meet their child’s needs and aspirations – at primary, intermediate and secondary school levels. These charter schools (formally known as Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua) offer parents a viable, high quality educational alternative to traditional state schools. They are independently operated, by charities, iwi and educational entrepreneurs, and state-funded - at the same level as an equivalent state school.

Over 1500 students, most of whom haven't done well in a traditional public school, have already taken this opportunity. The Government wants to rip this opportunity away from some of New Zealand's most vulnerable children.

Here are some of the great schools the Government wants to shut:

Vanguard Military School

Vanguard Military School is a school on the North Shore for Year 11, 12 and 13 students. It teaches the New Zealand Curriculum with a military ethos.

Rise UP Academy

The Rise UP Academy is a Christian-ethos full primary school (i.e., from Year 1-8) in Mangere, Auckland focusing on empowering Māori and Pasifika students.

Te Kōpuku High

Te Kōpuku High is a Māori-ethos high school in Hamilton with a dual emphasis on Māori culture and science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

Pacific Advance Senior School

Pacific Advance Senior School is a Pasifika high school in Otahuhu, Auckland which empowers Pacific students to excel in educational pursuits through Pasifika culture.

Partnership School myths

“Partnership Schools don’t have to teach the New Zealand Curriculum”

While the law allows Partnership Schools to teach an alternative curriculum, it must map to the principles of the New Zealand curriculum. All Partnership Schools currently teach the Curriculum or its Maori equivalent, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, anyway.

“Partnership schools get more funding than state schools”

All Partnership Schools operate within the same budget as state schools with similar students. Opponents tried to make out that Partnership Schools got more money when they were new, but they forget that new State Schools get extra money while their classes are filling up too.

“Partnership Schools allow unqualified teachers”

Teachers are not ‘unqualified’. Partnership Schools can hire teachers not registered with the Teachers’ Council, but they are required to have the “qualifications, skills and experiences” to raise students’ achievement. This provision has been used only a handful of times, for example it has allowed Vanguard to recruit a former air force aircraft engineer to teach engineering.

“Partnership Schools have failed overseas”

In the US, Stanford University’s Center has made findings such as: ‘Students in poverty, black students, and those who are English language learners (ELL) gain significantly more days of learning each year in both reading and math compared to their traditional public school peers.’ and ‘Many urban charter schools are providing superior academic learning for their students, in many cases quite dramatically better. These findings offer important examples of school organization and operation that can serve as models to other schools, including both public charter schools and traditional public schools.’

In Alberta, Canada, research found: ‘that charter schools, although small in number, generate much better results when compared to other schools where students come from the same social and economic background.’

Researchers in Sweden found that: ‘an increase in the [charter] school share of municipality school students moderately improves short-term educational outcomes in grade 9 (15-16 years).’

“Partnership Schools have failed in New Zealand”

Partnership Schools are attended by about 1300 students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. State schools haven’t worked for them. Partnership Schools have changed their lives. Vanguard achieved provisional NCEA results in 2017 of 96% at Level 1, 96.3% at Level 2, and 92.6% at Level 3. Partnership Schools are turning students away. They are successful and popular.

“Partnership Schools are undersubscribed"

While not all Partnership Schools have reached their maximum rolls, this is because they don’t receive capital funding for property. Partnership Schools have actually been turning away students while they build up their capacity.

“Partnership Schools are for profit"

Evidence from Sweden shows that for-profit schools are more effective at helping disadvantaged children with low parental engagement. Anyway, all but one New Zealand Partnership School is not-for-profit

“Partnership Schools have lower standards than state schools"

Partnership Schools are the only type of school in New Zealand contracted for engagement and achievement. If their kids don’t show up and get the grades they can be closed. No other school in New Zealand faces this pressure.

What the Government must do

The Government must guarantee that existing Partnership Schools can become Special Character Schools, with the following conditions:

1300 families have voluntarily decided that state schools aren’t working for them and that Partnership Schools are best for their kids. Partnership School aren’t hurting anyone and are helping to change lives. Scrapping the schools takes away choice from parents and students.

Labour MPs support charter schools. Kelvin Davis said he would resign if the charter schools in his electorate were closed. Willie Jackson said he "truly believed" in the Partnership School model and gave Chris Hipkins an “E” grade for trying to scrap them. Peeni Henare said we shouldn’t “stop something that is working”.

This is really about the teachers unions. They elected Chris Hipkins now they want payback by scrapping schools that aren’t required to sign teachers up to union contracts.

Chris Hipkins wants to shut Partnership Schools down but hasn’t been willing to visit a single one since becoming Minister. Dr Sir Toby Curtis, member of the Iwi Chairs Forum, said politicians who want to close charter schools “should visit the schools and assess these things for themselves before passing judgment”.

Maori students in the state school system told the Children’s Commissioner that they were called racist names, treated unequally, like they were stupid. No wonder Maori have disengaged from the state system and embraced charter schools.

The record of Maori educational underachievement is abysmal. Labour is putting the teachers’ unions ahead of tamariki.