The most vital thing about the re-introduction of Charter Schools is that EVERYTHING is done well.

I have no doubt Chris Hipkins is the worst and most ignorant (or dishonest) Minister of Education our nation has seen. He said this on ZB last week:
“If people are concerned about kids who aren’t achieving in mainstream schooling, the area to look is alternative education and activity centres.”

Hipkins and Ardern said to NZ before banning Charter Schools in 2018 that they would develop Designated Character Schooling. They – and their Ministry accomplices – turned down several brilliant applications. Hipkins and the teacher unions walk hand-in-hand blindfolded while:
– a significant portion of our primary school teachers cannot do basic English, Maths, or Science.
– the top 30 high schools see an average of 87% of their leavers attain UE, for the bottom 30 high schools it is 2.7%.

We are not talking being concerned about a few kids Mr Chipster – but around 40% of our high school students in abject failure.

Charter schools are a part of the solution but the last introduction of them was an appalling policy and implementation failure that was saved by a few high quality and incredibly dedicated educators and social entrepreneurs who carried the camel across the desert.

Parata had no enthusiasm and was a hand-brake. The Ministry of Education ran interference and were incompetent and obstructive at every turn. The teacher unions were delighted to have something to bang on about to give their members the false impression that they actually do something for their fees and care about kids. The contracts contained aspects that were, frankly, stupid and were first seen by those organisations willing to start the schools on the day they had to sign in October of 2013 (i.e. followed by a 3 month run in to start). Individual Charter School organisations took the Ministry to formal mediation on up to six items. The media did what NZ media does – took press releases from the left and ran them as fact.

And yet … the skill, passion and perseverance of a few individuals, organisations and supportive families and students has allowed some widespread enthusiasm and support for their introduction. They are needed – but everything must be done well.

  1. The contracts must be good. The goals set exact, important and achievable.
  2. The authorisation boards – and whoever is writing the policy and contracts – should be meeting constantly with previous providers. All of the Ministry reports of the last tranche are abject nonsense are not worthy of being door-stops. My understanding is that few previous providers have been consulted at all.
  3. Authorisation and monitoring must be completely independent of the Ministry and any reference to protecting bums on sets in the Ministry’s network of schools.
  4. The schools must be completely transparent in all aspects. When I was involved in the two Villa Education Trust Charter schools they were acknowledged as being the most transparent by evaluators and had very high relative results for NCEA from their Y10 leavers who went into State schools. Their first two external evaluations as Designated Character (State) Schools had their results diving and investigations being started for avoiding OIA’s.
  5. They must be allowed to grow when they succeed and closed when they fail.

    Just restarting Charter Schools, kind of like last time, will do very little good at all. There are already too many signs that this is going to be the case.

    Starting them expertly and in good numbers – could significantly improve NZ Education for the good of NZ children, their families and society as a whole.

    Alwyn Poole
    Innovative Education Consultants

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