Two new charter schools to open in 2018

ACT leader David Seymour has announced new partnership schools for Rotorua and Taupo. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

New charter schools have been announced, as the ACT-driven policy continues to expand.

Party leader David Seymour, who is also under-secretary to the Minister of Education, revealed there will be two new schools under the model for 2018.

The first charter school, also known as a partnership school, will be in Rotorua and led by iwi.

The Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology will cater to years 1 to 10 and focus on STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - as its curriculum base.

It will also weave Kaupapa Maori aspirations and target mainly Maori students, with an opening roll of 80.

The second school will be in Taupo and will be run by Blue Light Ventures, a youth charity with a relationship with the New Zealand Police.

It will have an outdoor-focused Kaupapa Maori theme and cater for Maori boys in years 11 to 13.

A residential facility will be attached to the school and most students will be expected to board, with an opening roll of 30.

Seymour said one size did not fit all in education and partnership schools offered choice.

“Educational innovators and community leaders like those in Ngati Whakaue and Blue Light have valuable on-the-ground experience in working with young people. Partnership schools will give these organisations the opportunity to lift achievement for students under-served by the state system.

“One of the strengths of partnership schools is the flexibility they have to make decisions about how they operate and to use their funding to meet the specific needs of their students in different ways to the mainstream education system.”

The additional schools, which will open in the first term of 2018, will bring the number of partnership schools in New Zealand to 12.

The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) has campaigned strongly against charter schools and was quick to voice its displeasure.
 
Alex Le Long, PPTA regional chair, described the announcement as “hugely frustrating”.
 
A better idea would be to work together on improving education rather than adopt a corporate model, he said.
 
“As Albert Einstein famously said; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
 
“Opening charter schools is not going to raise the achievement of our children. It’s not going to close any gaps. It’s not going to level any playing fields. The only thing charter schools do successfully is reward mediocrity by using scarce education money to prop up private owners.”