Unregistered teachers will be used in charter schools as part of a Government plan to improve the results of the worst performing children in New Zealand.

The policy was rebranded in Auckland yesterday as "partnership schools", or kura hourua, by Act MP John Banks and Education Minister Hekia Parata.

Mr Banks said that such schools would be able to use "people who can make a valuable contribution to teaching who won't necessarily be registered teachers". "We want the best people in front of the classrooms for these young people we're reaching out to."

The schools would be able to negotiate a percentage of unregistered teachers, he said.


Ms Parata said the schools would target those pupils who leave school without any qualifications, at the moment one in five.

The charter schools would be allowed to reshape the national curriculum but would have to meet education targets set by the Government.

"Less than a handful" of partnership schools are expected to open in 2014. So far, profit-making companies from the United States, community and church groups in this country and an organisation that advocates transcendental meditation are among two dozen groups that have expressed an interest in running a charter school.

Destiny Church, led by Bishop Brian Tamaki, has made inquiries.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said the schools had his full support and he would be happy to send his own children to be taught by an unregistered teacher.

Mr Key said the system would offer more choice to parents and would be closely monitored by the Government.

"If they don't succeed, the Government will be just as quick to close them down as we have been to establish them," he said.

"That is the advantage of partnership schools."


The announcements drew wide criticism. Post Primary Teachers' Association general secretary Kevin Bunker said the name change was "merely putting lipstick on a pig".

Labour education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta said it was a disgrace to allow unregistered teachers in class.

"You wouldn't let an untrained doctor treat your child ... why do [they] think it's okay to have untrained teachers in front of children in our schools' classrooms?"

Teachers' union the New Zealand Educational Institute has long opposed the idea of charter schools.

National president Ian Leckie said it was a blatant attack on professional teaching and called on the Government to explain why parents should not be worried with the policy.

"It seems prepared to use taxpayer money to fund business-owned schools with no proven record run by unqualified principals and teachers.

"John Key argues that charter schools will provide parents with choice - but what parent would choose to have their child taught by an unqualified teacher?"


* Renamed partnership schools.

* Targeting "worst" pupils.

* Will allow untrained teachers.

* Church and community groups and private firms have expressed interest in running them.


Danyl Mclauchlan @danylmc
Will charter schools consist of Act members holding hands around a group of poor kids and believing real hard in the free market?

Vincristine @vincristine
Charter schools are just a way of diverting my taxes from public education to private profits. The raison d'etre of this government totally.

Jenna B. @msjenb
No evidence charter schools will work. Can't see how untrained teachers are going to be an improvement on trained ones either.