Authority backs charter schools

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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The Iwi Education Authority will be supporting charter schools in a bid to improve the achievement of Maori students in New Zealand.

Iwi Education Authority - Te Maru o Nga Kura-a-Iwi o Aotearoa - principals and school representatives met in Rotorua recently to discuss the charter schools model, also known as partnership schools.

The education authority oversees more than 20 kura-a-iwi schools in New Zealand, including schools in Rotoiti and Murupara, giving iwi more input into the education and achievement of their tamariki (children).

Authority spokesman Pem Bird said a group of supporters from the education authority would be making a submission in Wellington this week in support of partnership schools.

During the meeting in Rotorua the week before last, he said the charter schools system was a good tool for the achievement of Maori in New Zealand. "If I had the opportunity, there would be [a charter school] in place tomorrow."

He said it was a risk, with charter schools basing their funding on results, but said better results was exactly what Maori students needed to aim for.

"Show me the accountability for those schools who fail our kids, there isn't any."

Mr Bird said Maori under-achievement had been an issue for generations and making proposed charter schools accountable for getting results was a good step forward.

He said Maori organisations and iwi could have more influence in charter schools, similar to kura-a-iwi schools, and could have input into the curriculum, aiming for higher achievement. Under the charter schools model a school would receive a five-year contract which would be renewed only if the school met its targeted results, set out in its charter.

Partnership Schools Working Group chairwoman Catherine Isaac said charter schools were a tool for lifting educational achievement and addressing educational disadvantage.

The education authority also signed a Kawa Agreement with the Ministry of Education during last week's meeting, which strengthened the accuracy of information given out by the ministry about kura-a-iwi schools, gave support for kura-a-iwi schools and ensured better communication between the two groups.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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