A summary of the Martin Jenkins report on charter schools

After many delays the Government finally quietly published the Martin Jenkins evaluation of charter schools.

This summary below will give you some idea of why they didn’t want any publicity around it. They are closing down a model that was working very well.

  • All of the PSKH are attracting priority learners (as was the policy intention), including learners with complex needs. Sponsors’ views on their students’ needs were corroborated by analysis of administrative data. The analysis confirmed PSKH students meet the definition of ‘priority’, and that prior to attending a PSKH many were transient and many had been disengaged.
  • PSKH had a good understanding of their students both as a group and as individuals. While students bring a range of strengths to their education, sponsors told us that many also come with low academic baselines and core skills, histories of disengagement from education and complex socio-economic and health needs. In addition, many lack positive aspirations and role models.
  • PSKH are meeting their learners’ needs using good and innovative practices. Practices are matched to local needs while still meeting high quality standards.
  • Innovations are driven by an intention to provide better education for students who had been under-served by the education system.
  • Innovations within PSKH are enabled by the funding model, with governance and management showing the most innovation in the first year. PSKH appoint governance boards to access specific skills, and split management functions into administration (CEO) and academic leadership (principal).
  • PSKH are also innovating in other areas (staffing, student engagement and support, and pedagogy, teaching and learning), but to a lesser extent. PSKH are less innovative in the areas of curriculum and engagement with the community, however they are using good practices (eg tailoring to context and need).
  • Further work in the second year of the evaluation found that teaching and learning approaches in PSKH are specifically driven by schools’ understanding of students’ needs and their local context. Teaching and learning is supported by good (and in some cases very good) assessment practices. PSKH leaders have a good understanding of assessment
  • Conditions enabling successful operation of PSKH include small rolls and class sizes, strong sponsor visions and sponsors building on a history of success in education.
  • Whānau and learner experiences appear to be positive.
  • PSKH offerings and innovations are strongly driven by sponsors’ visions. Sponsors valued the opportunity to provide an integrated approach that offered an alternative to the current system. Sponsors focus all aspects of delivery on meeting the needs of priority students.
  • Whānau whose children are currently attending a PSKH are attracted to the offerings and values (including cultural values) of PSKH. Whānau are satisfied with what PSKH are delivering and feel the PSKH are offering a positive alternative.
  • Whānau whose children are currently attending a PSKH also reported feeling more involved in their child’s learning, and more confident communicating with the PSKH. Very few learners appear to be opting out of PSKH.
  • The range and nature of innovations we found within PSKH provided early evidence the schools/kura were developing innovative solutions to match local needs while still meeting high quality standards.
  • The funding model was a key innovation but different to the others as it is a structural component that enables other potential innovation.
  • The greatest levels of innovation in the first year of operation were in governance and management.
  • The key driver of innovation was found at the governance level: the sponsor’s vision provides the impetus and mandate for innovation in all other areas.
  • A key innovation in governance was enabled by the policy — this is that boards were appointed for specific expertise without the need to involve parents.
  • Management enacted the sponsor’s vision by implementing specific innovations across the school/kura.
  • A key innovation in management was the split between administration (CEO) and academic leadership (principal).
  • Innovative practices and examples of best practice were evident in three dimensions driven by management.
  • Staffing: skilled staff support and bring innovation — they were experienced (including the small number of unregistered teachers) and brought a strong focus on improving outcomes for priority students; staff shared the responsibility for ongoing innovation with sponsors and management and were employed under individual contracts.
  • Student engagement and support: there was a strong focus on student wellbeing and engagement using a range of best practice approaches and innovations.
  • Pedagogy, teaching and learning: multiple examples of best practice, with approaches well matched to context and student need — while similar examples can be found in state schools, these practices are not widespread across the state sector.

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