The chief executive of a trust operating a Northland charter school says news the school has been approved to transition to a new state model is no cause for celebration.

It was a case of do that or close, Raewyn Tipene says.

Earlier this year Whangārei partnership school Te Kāpehu Whetū, which is run by He Puna Marama Trust, applied to become a designated character school after Education Minister Chris Hipkins launched the Education Amendment Bill in February to formally end partnership schools, also known as charter schools.

Raewyn Tipene, chief executive of He Puna Marama Trust, says the school had no choice but to apply to become a designated character school. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Raewyn Tipene, chief executive of He Puna Marama Trust, says the school had no choice but to apply to become a designated character school. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Tipene, chief executive of the trust, said the kura was told last week its application to transition had been given the tick of approval, and next year the school would open as a designated character school.

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"We've got no choice in this. It was designated character school or close and for our families and for all the people who have put so much work in the last decade, there was no choice for us,'' she said.

"We're not sitting around going 'Oh yay we've won or done something fabulous' this is where it got to as a result of the termination of our partnership school."

Designated character schools are state schools with a special character that sets them apart from ordinary state schools.

Tipene said there was still some uncertainty about what Te Kāpehu Whetū, which encompasses a primary school and a composite senior school (Years 7 to 13), will look like next year as a designated character school.

"We have a good relationship with the ministry and they're supportive so we're working with them to sort this out. We have no idea what it will mean and what is expected of us but that will speed up over the next couple of weeks."

She said her two main concerns were the survival of the school's Leadership Academy of A Company - which is about building strong, ethical character in boys and learning about integrity and what it looks like, and the governance.

While the current He Puna Marama trustees will be the school's establishing board going into 2019, Te Kāpehu Whetū will lose access to the trust's many resources including funding.

"Funding we know is different and less, and that's because it's not bulk funding. One of the problems is that we as a partnership school can determine where we spend our money, so we spend a lot of our resources on staffing and facilities. But in the state model there is a formula so it almost indicates immediately we will be losing staff, but we're yet to see what that means."

Tipene said over the next few weeks they would be talking to the ministry and those responsible for the new schools.

"I'm not too worried about 2019, we have a good team of teachers and senior staff. We're looking forward to consolidating and working out exactly what we want to do next year. So I'm pretty certain we'll be okay."

Charter schools were an ACT Party initiative that was part of its supply and demand deal with the previous National Government. The National Party said this week it would reinstate all charter schools if elected.