Politics | Charter Schools

Are charter schools better for rangatahi?

Many schools have shown interest after Associate Education Minister David Seymour announced a plan to put $153 million of taxpayers’ money into creating 50 new charter schools across Aotearoa, although some experts don’t believe it is a good idea to revive them,.

Tipene St Stephens School tumuaki Matua Nathan Durie believes turning the newly revived school into a charter school will provide better outcomes for their students if picked for the new project.

“What charter schools provide is a level of flexibility that allows us to deliver outcomes for ourselves and that’s important. Actually there’s quantifiable evidence across this country now that says when Māori deliver for themselves, they do a better job and that’s all we’re asking for,” Durie told Te Ao Māori News.

Education expert Keri Milne isn’t too excited about Seymour’s new plan to turn 35 state schools into charter ones while also creating 15 new ones.

“I’m a supporter of more options but I think those can be delivered within the system that we currently have.

“Charter schools as yet have not been proven to be an effective model and in actual fact there has been proven evidence overseas and in at our own schools, that they, in fact, don’t work.

“There’s ample evidence that shows kura kaupapa and those kinds of initiatives within the system are the places that are delivering the goods,” she said.

Durie believes the current educational system has had its chance and failed.

“For 100 plus years now the teachers union and the Ministry of Education and all of the other official groups have had an opportunity to deliver educational outcomes for Māori and the results have been horrible, to be fair.

“We’re excited about it actually and I think the primary reason to turn to the charter school model was the flexibility it enables.

“Flexibility from a curriculum perspective but also flexibility in the terms of our ability to drive it in the areas that we think are important and in our case in particular for Māori boys’ education.”

His kura was name-dropped by Seymour yesterday as one of those interested in turning into a charter school.

Although not confirmed, Durie said the boarding school for Māori boys might be picked to go charter next year.

“We’ve met with David Seymour and we’ve had meetings with ministry officials in helping to establish this, so we are definitely engaged with the process, which is important, but none of those confirmations has come forward yet.”

Milne thinks the money could’ve gone to existing services.

“There’s certainly all sorts of exciting initiatives we could do within the system to make a difference but $153 million of new money, I have to ask myself, why isn’t that being invested in the system to prop up the things that we know already deliver the goods.”

What is a charter school?

According to the Ministry of Education website, charter schools provide teachers and parents an alternative within the state-funded education system.

It grants greater autonomy in curriculum and teaching methods while operating under the supervision of independent sponsors. These schools can either be newly established or conversions from existing state or state-integrated institutions.

Kura hourua must enrol all eligible students unless oversubscribed and are held to rigorous standards through contractual agreements with the Crown. Failure to meet performance targets can result in closure or other interventions.

Eligibility to transition into a charter school extends to all state and state-integrated schools.