Segregated education at the secretive Gloriavale sect will not be investigated despite concerns for children's rights, a select committee has decided.
The Education Review Office was called before the Education and Science Select Committee today to explain why the extreme fundamentalist school was allowed to teach separate subjects for girls and boys, and stop education early.
Green MP Catherine Delahunty was hoping for an investigation into the isolated community's school, saying it was breaching the rights of children to a broad education, however it was decided against.
Students at the school run by secretive Christian community Gloriavale sit qualifications up to three years early so they can focus on a more "practical" education - including laundry-folding for girls.
Students do not progress past Year 11, and are not offered external exams. Science is based on creationism. No students in recent years had progressed to university.
Instead, in their senior years, girls and boys are taught separate vocational subjects - females learn sewing, cooking, laundry and childcare while males learn carpentry, engineering and farming.
The school is private but gets some state funding for operations. Last year it received $200,000 from the government, up from 170,000 in 2011.
Following the committee meeting, Ms Delahunty said ERO had told the MPs all the children learned to read and write and the school was not breaking any laws.
She said the other members of the select committee felt that going to the school was the parent's choice and therefore there were no grounds for investigation.
Ms Delahunty said she was extremely disappointed.
"I feel these kids are alone. You can argue that it's a parent's right to choice but what about the rights of the child," she said.
"Yes they learn to read and write but what about a broad curriculum that allows those children to have a choice in the world, to encourage critical thinking?"
She said while the letter of the law was being followed, the spirit that children should get a broad education was not, and the girls were being disadvantaged.
"The girls at gloriavale need someone to defend their right to education. And I feel like I didn't get the support to do that," she said.
Ms Delahunty said she will now push to a change in the Education Act that will see the rights of the child firmly enshrined at its heart.
When issues of human rights were raised previously, principal of the 164-child school Faithful Pilgrim said it was "sheer nonsense".
"Our aim is prepare our own students from our community for a life of practical service, a life of faith within the community," he told the Herald.
"We're not preparing our students for a life in your society, we are preparing them for a life in our society. Otherwise it wouldn't be sensible, would it?"
The school's latest ERO report found that the curriculum "suitably meets" the Gloriavale philosophy.
"Students are well prepared to learn the necessary literacy and mathematical skills and appropriate relationships for a life of faith and practical service within the community," the report said.
Gloriavale has come under scrutiny after allegations of inappropriate relationships between children and adults and harsh punishments for children. The church's leader, Neville Cooper, was convicted in 1994 for indecent assault on young women, serving 11 months in prison.