Submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee on the Education Amendment Bill
10 April 2018
This submission is made by Graeme Osborne.
Mobile: 021 337 377
Post: PO Box 235, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140]
Graeme Osborne is the Chief Executive of E Tipu e Rea Limited, a charitable entity established with an initial grant from the Ministry of Education for the purpose of providing independent support to the Partnership School | Kura Hourua (PSKH) sector. This support has taken the form of:
Promoting the PSKH concept to potential sponsors
Assisting prospective sponsors with their applications to establish PSKH
Assisting Sponsors with the ongoing development of their Schools
Brokering support for PSKH
Developing a pipeline of teaching and leadership talent for PSKH
The community of 11 operational and 5 potential Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua has been consulted on this submission.
Graeme Osborne wishes to make an oral submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee in support of this submission.
We oppose the amendments proposed to the Education Act in the Bill removing the partnership schools model from the legislation.
Based on student success and cost efficiencies compared to comparable State Schools the Partnership School | Kura Hourua sector should be expanded, not closed down.
Mainstream education has not succeeded in ensuring that students of different ethnicities or from low socio economic have equal access to educational success. More specifically, the New Zealand education system has failed to address the inter-generational educational under-achievement of Maori and Pasifika students, and students from low decile (economically deprived) areas. (refer to ).
There is a strong global trend towards engaging the private sector in the quest for ‘not for profit’ educational solutions that provide real educational choice for parents and students.
Enabling the involvement of the private sector in developing educational solutions for high risk students and students from deprived backgrounds has led to the emergence and growth of the Charter School movement in the United States and the Free School movement in the United Kingdom.
In the US, about 3 million students were enrolled in charter schools in the 2015-2016 school year, up from roughly 1.8 million students five years prior, according to the report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. They represented 6 percent of the total in 2015-2016, up from 3.6 percent. In 2016-17, there were more than 6,900 charter schools, enrolling an estimated 3.1 million students. Over the past 10 years, enrolment in charter schools has nearly tripled—from 1.2 million students in 2006-07 to an estimated 3.1 million in 2016-17.
In Los Angeles around 40.6% of total schools are Charter Schools, while in Washington DC some 42.7% of enrolled students are in Charter Schools.
As in New Zealand, the private sector in the UK and the US has been able to develop educational solutions through flexible ‘Charter School’ models where State Schools have failed.
The process of closing Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua should be paused in order to:
Consider the evidence: Commission an independent analysis of Partnership Schools' performance; undertake consultation with sponsors, students, families and school communities; consider the ‘Multi-year Evaluation of Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua Policy, Summary of Findings Across Years’1, March 2018 (noting that the Martin Jenkins reports were designed to assess the effectiveness of the Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua policy as opposed to assessing the operational effectiveness of individual Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua).
Seek a cross-party solution: Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua have delivered profound gains in Maori and Pasifika educational achievement (refer to ). For Partnerships Schools to be at the mercy of political ideology, as opposed to evidence-based decision making, is a flawed approach that has totally neglected the best interests of the 1500 students currently enrolled in PSKH, as well as eliminating parents’ choice of an education that they consider best fits their child’s needs. The pursuit of political ideology has also ruled out consultation with affected students, parents and school communities.
Honour the Crown’s commitments: PSKH sponsors entered into a contract with the Government of New Zealand in good faith. These contracts specify an initial six-year term followed by two further rights of renewal of six years each (refer to Clause 4(a) of the referenced contract2, noting that the terms of each of the contracts agreed between the Crown and Sponsors of PSKH are similar). It would seem reasonable then to expect that these schools can continue to operate in accordance with their legally constituted and executed contracts.
Honour the rights of Maori consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi. The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, first articulated by the Court of Appeal in 1987 in New Zealand Māori Council v Attorney General (the Lands case), have developed significantly over time and are now the subject of extensive commentary from both the New Zealand courts and the Waitangi Tribunal (the Tribunal). The core Treaty principles that have emerged from Tribunal reports are as follows:
In addition, Clause E in the ‘Introduction’ of the contract each PSKH has signed with the Crown makes reference to ‘relationship principles’ that will guide the parties in their dealings with each other. One of these principles is that ‘the interests of Students will be front of mind for each party’. The mere fact that the Crown has conducted no consultation with students and their families around the closure of PSKH suggests a breach of this clause. Further, in closing PSKH without consultation is likely that some of the 1500 students enrolled in PSKH will choose to discontinue their education, others face the prospect of returning to the state education system that failed them in the first place.
In the event the Government proceeds to close PSKH, then the key enablers of the student success delivered by Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua (PSKH) need to be retained, in order that they in turn ensure the success of those State Schools that are established to replace PSKH:
Ownership / Self-determination: The option of private ownership and ‘Self-determination’ for PSKH sponsors is unique in New Zealand to the PSKH model, and key to its success.
This key opportunity for a sponsor’s vision and mission to be implemented is lost in the event a PSKH is closed and replaced by a State School.
There is no entitlement for a State School (as defined by the Education Act (1989)), to provide the same level of ‘self-determination’ that PSKH are provided.
The concept of partnership and the right to self-determination are key elements of the Treaty of Waitangi and the contract that PSKH entered into with the Crown. (refer to the PSKH contract Clause E2). Recommendation 1 would go some way towards addressing the concern that neither of these key characteristics are available to State Schools.
Recommendation 1: That the Establishment Board of Trustees for a new State School (being opened to replace a closing PSKH) would be made up of the Board of the corresponding and closing PSKH.
Governance: Under the current PSKH policy, sponsors are able to appoint fit-for-purpose skill sets to their governing bodies in order to ensure educational success and financial viability as well as the protection and perpetuation of the ‘special character’ of their PSKH.
Bulk funding: The bulk funding of PSKH enabled the allocation of funds to priority areas such as small class sizes, the provision of meals for students, and the provision of uniforms to students. The way the property grants and salaries grants were cashed up for PSKH were disadvantageous to PSKH to the extent that both were paid at a discount to the funding provided to comparable State Schools, but the fact they
were paid as a bulk (cashed-up) fund allowed the schools to exercise discretion over spending in priority areas.
Recommendation 2: That in the event a Designated Character School is established to replace a closing PSKH, the construct of an Alternative Constitution would retain the option of appointing no Ministry of Education nominees to DCS governance roles.
Recommendation 3: That the Ministry of Education confirm that State Schools opening to succeed PSKH will have the discretion to treat the ‘operations grant’ component of their funding as a ‘bulk fund’ that can be allocated to priority spend areas, including teachers’ remuneration.
Performance targets: The inclusion of ‘contractual performance targets’ for PSKH was both motivational and supportive of the need for schools to be accountable for student success.
Although the Better Public Service performance targets specified in PSKH contracts were in effect unrealistic, the concept was worthy of further development. The monitoring of individual student progress year on year would have been a more logical approach.
Recommendation 4: That State Schools established in place of PSKH schools negotiate and agree realistic annual performance targets for student success and engagement.
For example: PSKH targets for school leavers with L2 NCEA were set at Better Public Service (BPS) levels, without taking into account that schools taking their first enrolments of Priority Learners at Year 11 would struggle to achieve these targets (at least in their early years, given that many of these students were up to two years behind their peer group achievement). Exercising accountability for targets as high as 85% was unrealistic given that small numbers of poorly performing students would constitute school leavers early in the PSKH’s history.
Employment arrangements: It is acknowledged that opposition from the teachers’ unions, namely NZEI and NZPPTA, has resonated with the current Government to the point where it was persuaded to close PSKH by the end of the 2018 school year and to repeal any / all enabling PSKH legislation on 01 August 2018.
While a key driver for the teachers’ unions opposition to PSKH was the PSKH flexibility to employ non-registered teachers, the reality is that this was largely irrelevant as very few non-registered teachers were employed throughout the PSKH movement, and those that were came from training experience backgrounds such as the Military.
The related issue of PSKH employing teachers on Individual Employment Agreements (IEAs) that bore no resemblance to the teachers’ collective agreements was also unacceptable to the teachers’ unions. These IEAs however allowed PSKH sponsors to incorporate organisational ‘performance targets’ into individual employment arrangements in some cases, and to customise work duties and responsibilities in others.
Recommendation 5: That State Schools established in the place of PSKH retain the ability to employ staff on IEA’s outside of the teachers’ collectives.
The teacher’s unions view of PSKH employment arrangements is somewhat disingenuous. The reality is that many state schools now derive significant revenues from such sources as ‘international fee-paying students’ that are being used to incentivise teachers, pay staff above the state salary scale, to reward staff undertaking additional duties, to providing ‘company’ vehicles for the business and private use of Principals etc. The flexibility afforded to PSKH by way of being able to function outside of the teachers’ collectives was fundamental to their success.
Serving ‘Priority Learners’
The eleven operational PSKH are contractually required to have at least 75% of their enrolled students made up of ‘Priority Learners’. (Refer to Schedule 6 in the PSKH Contract3)
The core focus for PSKH was to complement the ‘one size fits all’ approach of mainstream education and to be part of the solution for the chronic educational under-achievement of Maori, Pasifika and low decile (deprived) students in mainstream education.
Recommendation 6: That current PSKH obligations around the enrolment of Priority Learners are retained for any new State School arising out of a closing PSKH, that is, at least 75% of any their roll will be Priority Learners.
The constraint of time, the lack of consultation and the absence of evidence that justifies the closure of 11 Partnership Schools and the dislocation of more than 1500 at-risk young New Zealanders is acknowledged in the Ministry of Education’s Regulatory Impact Statement5 (dated 16/1/18).
It would seem reasonable therefore to expect that the following steps would be taken before any decision was taken to close educational entities that had 1500 at-risk students enrolled and that were achieving success with New Zealand’s most at-risk students:
Consider the evidence: Although the explanatory notes to the Education Amendment Bill (2017)6 suggest that the quality of school education will be ‘strengthened’ by removing the provisions relating to National Standards and the partnership school model from legislation, there is no evidence provided to support this claim.
Similarly, there has been no evidence provided to support the assertion in the Regulatory Impact Statement (dated 16/1/18) (Cl 8) that ‘the aim of this intervention, as signalled by all three parties involved in Government, is to ensure a "quality, comprehensive, public education system".
Recommendation 7: Commission an Independent review: That the Minister delay the closure of PSKH until such time as an independent review into the effectiveness of PSKH is commissioned and completed. This approach would be consistent with the ‘sweeping education reform plan’ that he announced on 20 February 2018,.
Clause 13 of the Cabinet Paper7 supporting the Education Amendment Bill (2017) states that ‘We simply don't need the flawed charter schools model in New Zealand … Charter schools don't have to teach to New Zealand's internationally respected curriculum, don't have to employ registered and qualified teachers, and don't have the same accountabilities that every other school in New Zealand have’. This statement is factually incorrect. There is no background provided that justifies the assertion that the Charter Schools model is ‘flawed’. Each of the PSKH teaches to the New Zealand Curriculum, they do have flexibility around the employment of registered teachers and, like State Schools, they are subject to Education Review Office scrutiny, in addition to monitoring by the Authorisation Board.
No consultation: Despite the profound impacts on students, parents, communities and staff arising from the closure of PSKH, as acknowledged in Clause 7 of The Regulatory Impact Statement (dated 16/1/18), there has been absolutely no consultation undertaken by either Government or the Ministry of Education. Clause 37 of the RIS also confirms that ‘no systematic stakeholder analysis or consultation has been undertaken at this time’.
Recommendation 8: Undertake Consultation: That the Minister delay the closure of PSKH until such time as a program of consultation has been planned and completed that ensures the needs of students, parents, School communities and School Sponsors are taken into account.
Recommendation 9: Develop and consider options: Allocate necessary and sufficient time to develop consider future options for PSKH in order to remove these ‘constraints’ of time.
Lack of options: The introductory note to the Education Amendment Bill (2017)8 points out that the available future options for PSKH were constrained by time, that is: ‘The parties involved in Government signalled their intention to remove the PSKH model during the 2017 election campaign. The number of options considered were constrained by this commitment’.
The New Zealand Curriculum, Registered teachers:
As has been the practice with PSKH, it is acknowledged that the New Zealand Curriculum should be adopted by schools, and that barring such phenomena as teacher shortages, registered teachers would deliver as close to 100% of teaching hours as practicable.
Recommendation 10: That provision be made for PSKH that proceed to establish a new State School to be able to expand in accordance with demand for student places, and where such a State School wishes to replicate in an area they consider would benefit from such a school, that Ministry of Education policy and process would expedite, facilitate and support such expansion and / or duplication.
Expansion & Replication: Provision should be made for PSKH that proceed to open a State School to succeed their PSKH to expand in accordance with demand for student places, and where such a Designated Character School wishes to replicate in an area they consider would benefit from such a school, that Ministry of Education policy and process would expedite, facilitate and support such expansion and / or duplication.
Appendix 1 - Early Maori Education and the move away from Maori self-determination.
It is only recent history (1969) that saw the discontinuation of Native Schools established under the Native Schools Act 1867. For these schools the priority was the teaching of English with the stated intention of them being phased out once English had become the predominant language in Maori communities. These schools were poorly resourced, many teachers were untrained, and the emphasis beyond basic literacy and maths was on manual and domestic skills. To overcome the difficulties of Maori accessing secondary schooling, Native District High Schools were established from 1941 by adding secondary departments to existing Native Schools. Against the wishes of Maori, and in response to the urbanisation of Maori, the Native District High Schools, which Maori regarded as ‘their schools’, were transferred away from Maori community control and into regional education boards. Advocates of these Maori schools considered that they better served the needs of Maori than mainstream schools. The Hunn Report (1961) however included a recommendation that Maori be encouraged to move from rural areas into towns and cities, identified the degree to which Maori were disadvantaged by the Native Schools and advocated integration, which led to those remaining Native Schools being transferred to the control of the regional education boards in 1969. In the meantime, the urbanisation of Maori accelerated after World War Two from 80% of Maori living in rural areas to the point where in 2013 84% of Maori were regarded as ‘urban’.9
This history supports a strong argument for Maori and Pasifika self-determination (Tino Rangatiratanga) in education to at least the levels provided by Kura Hourua.
Appendix 2 – Maori & Pasifika under-achievement
Global educational benchmarks show a downward trend in student learning in New Zealand - Maori and Pasifika students in particular are persistently under-served by mainstream education
New Zealand is involved in several research projects that compare education outcomes between countries. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), The Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS). These projects cover different year and age groups as well as different skills and subject areas.
PIRLS10: The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is overseen by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). This study assesses middle-primary school children’s reading literacy every five years (New Zealand Year 5 students).
By way of summary there was a statistically significant 8-point decrease in the mean score from PIRLS 2011 to 2016.