Within the space of four short years, 11 small Charter Schools with 1500 students, of which at least 75% are 'priority learners', have delivered educational success for Maori & Pasifika students which has eluded the State education system for decades.
The Government and the teachers unions claim that New Zealand has one of the world's best education systems is not supported by global comparisons such as PISA, TIMMS (https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/topics/research/timss), PIRLS (https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/topics/research/pirls). These studies all show that we are at best sitting around the middle of the global pack. The PISA data (as below) in fact shows the literacy and numeracy competencies of our students is in decline, further supported by our own Tertiary Education Commission establishing that 40% of school leavers with at least Level 2 NCEA are ‘functionally illiterate’.
The assertion that Charter Schools are 'taking money out of the State system' is false. If an under-achieving student opts out of their local state school then of course the funding for that student will move with them, but the funding formula for the school is unchanged.
There was no consultation with those directly and most affected by the Government’s decision to close Charter Schools. The Government acted unilaterally, in the total absence of any consultation with those who this decision affected most, parents and their children.
Parents now have no choice: Parents for whom the education of their children is a priority have been denied the option of taking their children out of a school that is failing them and into a Charter School, simply because of a unilateral political decision. It will be no surprise to anyone that low decile schools struggle more than most to attract and retain high quality teaching talent, yet it is these schools that enrol our most at-risk students from low socio-economic settings who find themselves captured within a school zone which might be limiting their educational prospects.
The Ministry of Education confirms that Charter Schools are funded comparably to equivalent State Schools, and the funding for all schools is based on the number of enrolled students, as it always has been.
The claim that Charter Schools are taking registered teachers out of the state system and compounding the teacher shortage is a totally ridiculous notion ... the short supply of high quality teachers is more to do with teachers pay and conditions and a lack of union and political foresight and planning than anything else. And then there is the hypocrisy of the Charter School detractors ... on the one hand it is a criticism of Charter Schools that they have the freedom to set their own pay and conditions and employ unregistered teachers, but then Charter Schools get caned for not using registered teachers.
Charter Schools were never an experiment. They are a perfect vehicle for implementing educational innovation, they are succeeding, they are cost efficient, and they are contractually accountable. International models for Charter Schools are working, there was no risk in the implementation of the Partnership School | Kura Hourua model, and this was no experiment. The fact that there are now more than 500 Charter Schools (Free Schools and Academy Schools) in the UK is surely comfort enough.
It would have been understandable for a new Government to tweak the Charter School model, and even to re-brand it, but to demolish it and by so doing hurt our most vulnerable students is irrational, contrary to student and parent preferences, and inconsistent with the Governments publicised determination to place the interests and needs of our children first.
08 May 2018