Tamihere keen to bring charter school system to west

By Yvonne Tahana

John Tamihere. Photo / Natalie Slade
John Tamihere. Photo / Natalie Slade

Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere wants the charter school pilot expanded to West Auckland - where he says schools are failing children.

Act's confidence and supply agreement sets out the schools will be set up in areas where educational underachievement is most entrenched.

South Auckland and Christchurch are the first two regions where the Government says that iwi, private, community groups and existing educational providers will compete to operate a local school or start a new one.

Waipareira is in discussions with Remuera's Mt Hobson Middle School to establish a charter school for pupils in years 7 to 10.

Mr Tamihere said Ministry of Education figures which revealed that 30 per cent of students leave the region to attend other schools is indicative of parents' dissatisfaction with educational results in the area.

"We've got a low track record of excellence. All we're looking at doing is bringing the best practice from Remuera to the west."

Education Minister Hekia Parata would be approached for support once details were worked out between the trust and school, Mr Tamihere said.

Ms Parata's office was unable to respond last night to Herald questions about whether the programme could be expanded to Waitakere.

Teacher union NZEI has been critical of the policy saying the overseas experience shows they take students and money away from existing schools, undermine communities and increase social segregation.

Mt Hobson Middle School academic manager Alwyn Poole said any joint venture between the two groups would likely serve families that Waipareira already worked with, probably Maori children.

At present his school roll provided for 48 students and had a 1:12 teacher-student ratio.

He said the fact that 95 per cent of students from the school went on to achieve level 1 qualifications was a reflection of the school's methods.

Opposition to charter schools was short-sighted, he said.

He cited a 2009 Stanford University report which detractors often quote from. It found 17 per cent of charter schools reported significant academic gains over traditional schools, 37 per cent reported worse results while 46 per cent reported no significant difference.

While that didn't look like a great report for charter backers, it did find that the schools had a larger and more positive impact among children from poorer backgrounds.

"What the big reports in the US say is that these types of schools are working for children in poverty and they're working for children of a middle school age.

"When you apply a new model like this you have to take care, and you have to apply the best of some-thing."

The development of kura kaupapa showed that Maori parents could be comfortable with parallel institutions, he said.

- NZ Herald

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