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Hasty Education Bill puts NZ’s Poorest Children At Risk

28 February 2013: News from CPAG

Hastily drafted Education Bill puts New Zealand’s Poorest Children at Risk

Child Poverty Action Group argues that the Education Amendment Bill (no. 4) puts some of New Zealand’s poorest children at risk.

CPAG welcomes ongoing, thoughtful education reform that supports better educational outcomes for New Zealand children, especially its poorest. Education is a route out of poverty and while improvements are welcome, New Zealand needs to be cautious with reform and not risk the elements of education that serve all New Zealand children well.

Currently, all schools whether public or private, operate under a charter that sets out their contract with the school community and the state. Schools must comply with the Education Act’s National Curriculum and Teachers’ Council provisions. They are also obliged to be transparent in their operations and open to scrutiny.

None of these obligations apply to the proposed ‘partnership schools kura hourua’.

The proposed ‘partnership’ is between the ‘sponsors’ and the Minister for Education, not with the community. This removes the democratic decision-making power from local communities.

The privately owned ‘partnership schools’ would receive public funding, and would be given the power to absorb existing state schools, without requirements for transparency or public accountability or oversight.

Because they would be permitted to function without trained teachers, and without delivering the National Curriculum, there is no assurance that they will prepare their students for further education. This puts every one of their students at enormous and unnecessary risk.

It is particularly concerning these schools are targeting children in the poorest communities who will have no alternative if the schools fail. Unlike many decision makers whose children attend private education, or those of mid income communities, these families don’t have the money to purchase the ‘choice’ of private schools. Their children will attend the closest school. It matters very much that children in the poorest schools have carefully regulated education.

Children only get one childhood and they cannot be put at risk by poor teaching, or schools that fail because of poor business practice.

In countries where such partnership schools have had some success, their introduction and structure has been carefully considered and they are non-profit.

This Amendment is being rushed through. CPAG joins other concerned groups and individuals in opposing this Bill.

--

Supporting Information:

CPAG’s Submission: http://www.cpag.org.nz/news/submission-charter-schools-education-amendment/

Dr Bronwyn Haywood’s Submission: http://growing-greens.blogspot.co.nz/

ENDS

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