A founder of two charter schools says it is a "massive shock" that the Government may not make a decision until September on whether the schools can convert to state schools from January.

Alwyn Poole, founder of South Auckland Middle School and Middle School West Auckland, says the Education Ministry has decided to appoint an "independent evaluator" to gather more information about the two schools before Hipkins decides whether they can become state schools.

"We have to do the work with the independent evaluator," he said.

"We have asked that this would be a quick process - not the extra four to five weeks the ministry outlined to us today.​"


Hipkins announced today that he has approved state school status with designated character for six other charter schools - two in Whangarei, Sir Michael Jones' Pacific Advance Secondary School in Ōtāhuhu, Te Kōpuku High School in Hamilton, Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology in Rotorua and Te Aratika Academy near Hastings.

Vanguard Military Academy at Albany was granted designated character state school status in May.

Today's decisions also include approval of the first stage of negotiations for Māngere-based Te Kura Māori o Waatea and a proposed Waatea High School, and a proposed new school, Tūranga Tangata Rite in Gisborne, to become state-integrated schools.

South Auckland Middle School students Kaia Tuiono, Liana Miller and Bree Richmond-Rex are still in limbo after Education Minister Chris Hipkins' decisions on nine other charter schools. Photo / File
South Auckland Middle School students Kaia Tuiono, Liana Miller and Bree Richmond-Rex are still in limbo after Education Minister Chris Hipkins' decisions on nine other charter schools. Photo / File

But Hipkins said decisions about Poole's two middle schools and Sita Selupe's Rise Up Academy in Māngere might not be made until September.

"I have sought further information from the sponsor of [the two middle schools], and work is needed on property options for the remaining application," he said.

"The applicants for these three schools have met all other criteria for becoming a designated character school," he said.

Hipkins has appointed establishment boards of trustees for the new state schools approved so far, including members of each charter school's governance board "to provide continuity and support its character".

He said it would take time to finalise the applications for state-integrated status for the two Waatea schools, which hope to become a composite Year 1 to 13 school, and the Gisborne school.


"I expect to make final decisions on the two state-integrated and three designated character schools in September, but have asked the ministry to try to ensure this happens earlier if possible," he said.

"This is still enough time for the new schools to open in 2019."

But Poole said he had provided all the information that ministry officials had asked for.

"When we had submitted our applications, senior ministry officials assured us that if any more work/information was required they or the minister would ask for it to ensure deadlines were met," he said.

"This has simply not happened - there has been no process (one meeting with senior officials on February 13) - and today's deferral is a massive shock and will be so to all involved in our schools, not least the children."

Hipkins said the independent evaluator would look at the curriculum in Poole's schools.

"I have asked the ministry to appoint an independent evaluator to gain more information as to whether the curriculum delivery would reflect the school's proposed designated character and provide education of a kind that differs significantly from an ordinary state school," he said.

"Any applicant that seeks to be a designated character school under Section 156(4) of the Education Act 1989 has to show how it will have a character that is in some specific way or ways different from the character of ordinary state schools."

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the 1300 students in charter schools are Māori and another 27 per cent are Pasifika.

Māori educationalists Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi have lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal alleging that closing the schools as charter schools will have a disproportionately detrimental effect on Māori.