Another National government may introduce more charter schools to maintain diversity, but Labour says it would scrap them altogether.

The announcements were made by Education Minister Hekia Parata and Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins as they joined TVNZ's Q+A discussion this morning.

Asked if hundreds of charter schools would replace the current five, Ms Parata said "We don't know at this point."

In April, the Ministry of Education gave Ms Parata a report which considered allowing tertiary institutions to sponsor charter schools - an arrangement which is currently not allowed.


Ms Parata said charter schools were "niche" and compared their diversity to bilingual and religious schools.

Labour said it opposed state education being replaced by so-called partnership schools.

"We believe in public education, we've got a brilliant education system," Mr Hipkins said. "Charter schools in the US are getting up to five times the funding [of state schools.]"

Asked if Labour would "throw out" existing charter schools, Mr Hipkins said his party would deal with them on a case by case basis "and work out where they might fit within the state school system."

"We are not going to have a situation where profit-making businesses cannot employ qualified, registered teachers, not teach to the New Zealand curriculum, [and] make a profit out of educating kids."

The Government was currently evaluating the existing five charter schools, Ms Parata said.

"We are in the process considering a second round [of applications] now... we have 340 kids in five schools taught by 36 teachers of whom 32 are registered."

"They teach the New Zealand curriculum, are reviewed by ERO and are funded against a benchmark of decile 3."


Mr Hipkins said lowering class sizes was a $400 million priority for Labour and would be more effective than paying more to great teachers.

Good teachers "are missing out on five figure salary increases".

Labour would also scrap national standards, a pledge dating back to the 2011 election.

"The national standards data is absolutely nonsense," Mr Hipkins said.

"To suggest that student achievement is improving, there simply not the credible evidence base to make that claim. The Ministry of Education's own research shows that the schools are interpreting the standards differently and what a child is assessed at one school they might be assessed completely differently at another school. There's no consistency, the National Standards are not consistent nor are they standard."