Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Destiny interested in charter school

Brian Tamaki. Photo / Supplied
Brian Tamaki. Photo / Supplied

Destiny Church is among a number of religious groups that have shown interest in running one of the Government's new charter schools.

Other groups that have expressed an interest include a United States-based profit-making school chain, the New Zealand chapter of the Maharishi Foundation, which practises transcendental meditation, trustees of the former Maori schools St Stephen's and Queen Victoria, and Victoria University.

Associate Education Minister and Act Party leader John Banks listed 18 organisations in answer to a parliamentary question from the Green Party about who had expressed an interest to him in running or being involved with running a charter school.

The Greens are concerned that the charter school system will allow public money to be used to promote religious interests in schools and that employment and curriculum standards will be lowered.

Destiny - run by Bishop Brian Tamaki - already operates a bilingual pre-school and a composite primary and secondary school of 190 pupils at Mt Wellington.

Richie Lewis of Destiny said the school would be moving to Wiri at the end of the year when the church shifted its operations there.

Destiny's plan was to expand the school, particularly for Maori and Pacific children in South Auckland.

"My inquiry many months ago with Mr Banks was simply to gather information about charter schooling and the Government's plans in that direction, particularly for South Auckland," Mr Lewis told the Weekend Herald.

"We have not received or made any kind of charter school application."

The Government has not yet called for formal expressions of interest.

That is expected to happen next year after the Cabinet has okayed the blueprint for the schools and legislation has been passed.

The first schools will be approved next year to get under way in 2014.

The establishment of charter schools was part of the coalition agreement between the minority National Government and Act's sole MP, and it allows for profit-making schools. The plan was in neither party's manifesto.

The agreement envisages that existing schools could be designated charter schools or new ones set up.

It also envisages that they could typically be faith-based and/or have a rigorous academic focus and/or be based on a target population.

They will be state-funded but are expected to have greater freedom on employment matters, the curriculum, governance models and operational management.


Who wants in?

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST ...

String Theory Schools: A for-profit Philadelphia US based education management organisation which links academic education with the arts.

Think Global Schools: San Francisco based non-profit organisation which operates a "travelling high school" in three different cities around the world each year.

Maharishi Foundation of NZ: The local branch of adherents to the Transcendental Meditation technique pioneered by the Beatle's guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Chapman College: Rotorua based co-ed non-denominational Christian school.

Mt Hobson Middle School: Private Remuera Christian school.

Canterbury Youth Development Programme Trust: Runs programmes for youth who are most at risk of becoming life-long criminals.

Victoria University: University in Wellington.

Manukau Christian Charitable Trust: Involved with the St Andrews Christian Preschool in Manurewa and established the Sunshine Christian Preschool and the Hilltop Community Centre.

BEST Pacific Institute of Education: Manukau-based provider of Pacific focused youth, adult and tertiary education.

New Zealand Christian Proprietors Trust: Operates a network of Christian schools including Kingsway School in Silverdale, Jireh Christian School in Henderson, KingsGate school in Pukekohe, and KingsView school in Queenstown.

Rangitaiki Independent Schools: A "boutique" private school near Whakatane.

St Stephen's and Queen Victoria Schools Trust Board: Administers the assets of the famous Anglican schools for Maori which closed a decade ago.

Porirua Alternative School: Offers a "second chance" learning opportunity for young people who have become disengaged from mainstream education.

Tu Toa: Palmerston North secondary school with an emphasis on top level sport and Maori values.

Literacy Adventure Farm: A Dargaville camp where underprivileged boys are taught to read using the phonics system.

Advanced Training: Manukau-based vocational and IT training institute.

RAISE Pasifika: A community driven initiative, advocating for Pasifika education aspirations in Auckland.

- compiled by Adam Bennett

- NZ Herald

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