First charter school set to open next year

By Kate Shuttleworth

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The first charter school will be open and ready in time for term one next year after controversial legislation was passed in Parliament last night.

Education Minister Hekia Parata will confirm the operators of the first schools by August, with up to five set to open in 2014.

The Education Ministry have received up to 35 proposals from organisations wanting to set up a charter school, including Destiny Church.

Successful applications would be interviewed by an authorisation board, which will advise Ms Parata on which applications should be approved.

The Education Amendment Bill which paved the way for charter schools was part of the National Government's coalition deal with Act leader John Banks.

Mr Banks said charter schools would allow flexibility in the way schools operate, allowing them to focus on disadvantaged children.

"We have a long tail of underachievement in New Zealand and that failure is institutionalised and inter-generational.''

Head of the authorisation board, Catherine Isaac, said the number of schools that were set up would depend on the quality and calibre of the applications.

She told Radio New Zealand existing schools were too restrictive.

"Some of the restrictions that I think are an issue for many schools are the fact that the resources have to used in a particular way - how you use resources is prescribed, the hours that you teach, the school year.

"For those that are trying to do something a little bit difference they are very constraining,'' Ms Isaac said.

She would not comment on individual applications.

Ms Parata echoed Mr Banks saying charter schools would allow for an education system that worked for all.

Yesterday in Parliament Opposition MPs asked whether the minister would rule out using schools earmarked for closure in Christchurch to set up charter schools.

Official documents obtained by the Green Party showed the first charter schools were likely to be established on the site of closed state schools or be private schools converted to charter schools.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said closing a state school with 100 per cent qualified teachers and replacing it on that site with a charter school was "an insult to children and teachers who have fought hard to keep their schools open''.

Charter schools will not have to employ registered teachers or follow the national curriculum and will be exempt from the Official Information Act.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 17 Sep 2014 21:33:35 Processing Time: 430ms