The only South Island contender in the latest round of potential charter schools is also the only with a focus on learning disabilities.
Christchurch learning needs tutoring and assessment company Train the Brain has made a list of 26 organisationsnationwide all vying for the chance to become another of the Government’s recently introduced partnership schools.
The third opportunity for sponsor groups to put forward their ideas closed on October 30, and the chosen applicants will open their schools in 2017.
Partnership schools, or kura hourua, are created with a partnership between the sponsor, Government and community.
The schools, initially referred to as charter schools, have been controversial and Education Minister Hekia Parata initially said there would not be a third application round in 2015.
Train the Brain director Carina Voges said there were four categories organisations could apply under – Maori, Pacifica, low socio-economic, and learning needs.
It was “sad” there were currently no charter schools in the South Island, and none for learning needs, she said.
She started the organisation more than six years ago for children with difficulties like dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and visual and auditory processing disorders, and it had grown “tremendously”.
She said between 12 and 24 per cent of the population had learning disabilities.
“Parents always ask, ‘Why don’t you start a school?”‘
“I thought this would be the right time to apply.”
She believed because of the plasticity of the brain, pathways could be built to manage and overcome certain disabilities.
“What we believe is that children with identified learning needs have an average or above average intelligence and needs are not met in the classroom.”
“That potential is lost to New Zealand. New Zealand is a small country and we can’t afford that.”
The 13-staff company currently tutored about 100 children part-time, and assessed other children to identify their needs.
It was applying to become an affordable full-time school, running classes of no more than 12 children to each room.
To begin with, it would have a roll of about 85 for year 3 to 9, with plans to expand to a pre-school to year 13 school while also continuing tutoring.
If accepted, parents would only have to pay fees at state school amounts.
Doesn’t that sound great?
And again we remember that Labour and Greens have vowed to shut down all charter schools in New Zealand.