In 2011, Partnerships Schools/Kura Hourua were introduced as an alternative to the mainstream, and to provide flexibility in teaching and learning.
These schools successfully use tailored, innovative approaches to engage students in core academic subjects – English, Maths and Science – as well as delivering technical skills and vocational training, alongside the basic New Zealand curriculum.
Eleven schools progressively opened around the country, with state funding on a cashed-up per student basis exactly equivalent to a regular state school, though with much lower start-up funding. Businesses and iwi have supported and invested in them. They have given a fresh start to more than 1,500 young people, many of whom had ‘given up’ on regular schooling because they didn’t fit neatly or conveniently into the traditional box.
Despite resistance mainly from teacher unions (who don’t like flexibility, and would rather stick to a system that works best for their collective interests rather than the individual needs of students), the Partnership Schools / Kura Hourua model has worked well for the communities they serve. So much so that demand for new student enrolments has exceeded 20%, year on year average.