The HUGE Charter School need and opportunity in NZ

… A Privilege to be in the New Zealand Herald on Friday 7th June

The article is here and as it is behind their paywall … some parts below.


In 2024 the state education sector in New Zealand is a vast and failed experiment.

With the re-introduction of the charter school model in NZ the habitual opponents – the teacher unions and the Labour Party – have taken only a two-point strategy in their opposition.

The first is that charter schools are a failed experiment with little evidence of success. The second is; if the $38.25 million a year for charter schools was spent on state schools then all of their ills would be solved.

These people take the NZ public, the media and large parts of the education sector for fools.

In term 4 of 2023 only 50 per cent of students attended school regularly and for Māori and Pasifika this number was 39 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

NZ Institute of Economic Research research finds that a significant portion of new primary school teachers have failed NCEA Level 1 English, maths and science. The results across the levels and all demographic situations for NCEA are in consistent decline.

NZ’s international results not only show an actual decline, and one relative to other countries …

If we take our highest broad school qualification – University Entrance (UE) – the top 30 high schools in NZ have an average of 87 per cent of their students achieving UE.

For the bottom 30 schools the average is 2.7 per cent. The high profile “Super 8″ single-sex boys’ schools have a range of 50 per cent down to 14 per cent – but they are good at rugby.

In terms of ethnicity, the most recent UE for leavers statistics in NZ had Asian students at 62 per cent, European at 42 per cent, Pasifika at 21 per cent and Māori at 18 per cent. If that is not shocking to you it shows how accustomed we have become to that level of failure.

Our current state education system can genuinely be labelled a “failed experiment” on a massive scale – and especially for Māori, Pasifika, students from lower-income families and those locked into choiceless geographical locations.

There is significant evidence of international success for schools that are allowed to operate as charter schools …

The state-of-the-art Stanford University Credo study in the USA (2023) concluded that … charters have drastically improved, producing better reading and math scores than traditional public schools.

… There is considerable success with charter schooling. It is in no way a failed experiment – as opposed to current state schooling in NZ – and from a system, school, student/family basis many are thankful for the model.

In term 4 of 2023 only 50 per cent of students attended school. Photo / 123RF
In term 4 of 2023 only 50 per cent of students attended school. Photo / 123RF

In NZ we have 2177 state schools and 333 state-integrated schools. The teacher unions are asserting that the money to be spent on charters could provide 700 teacher aides and cure all problems.

Firstly – the $38.25m per year is 0.3 of a teacher aide per school and, secondly, each teacher aide would only be paid $54,000 per annum according to the generous teacher unions.

Charter schools may not be the “silver bullet” but they could well carry the Lone Rangers that have them in their arsenal.

Alwyn Poole
Innovative Education Consultants

Comments (16)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment