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Partnership Schools Are a Shambles? ‘Relative to What?’

Partnership Schools Are a Shambles? ‘Relative to What?’

Steve Thomas

10 September 2014

“The Quality Public Education Consortium’s (QPEC) figures for higher per pupil funding are a distraction from more important questions about whether Partnership Schools are effective,” says PhD Scholar, Steve Thomas.

“QPEC believes it has found a major chink in Partnership Schools’ armour, because of an 11 pupil variance in schools’ rolls between the July and March 2014 roll returns. While the Government should say what will happen to the unspent money from this year, it is no crime that rolls fluctuate. All schools’ rolls change throughout the year,” says Steve Thomas.

“Further, assuming Partnership Schools’ rolls grow over the life of their contract—as they are supposed to—high nominal per pupil operational funding for 2014 will fall in nominal terms.”

“A more important question, for QPEC and other critics, is whether any rolls changes are substantially different to comparable regular state schools, or perhaps the schools that Partnership School pupils previously attended,” states Thomas.

“Likewise, any alleged problems with attendance or engagement at Partnership Schools need to be judged against a benchmark. The critics have not said what their standard is.”

“Partnership Schools’ mission is to serve pupils with problems such as low levels of school engagement. It may be hard for them to achieve very low truancy or stand-down rates, compared to most regular state schools.”

“If pupils who attend Partnerships Schools this year are ones who would otherwise not have attended school at all—and these pupils are participating and engaged—then Partnership Schools are likely to be adding value for these pupils and their families.”

“Neither the critics, nor the Government, know the answers to these questions, yet, but they are the ones New Zealanders should be asking,” says Thomas.

“In these early months of the programme, New Zealanders should be careful to judge Partnership Schools’ relative to other state schools and educational initiatives that serve disadvantaged pupils.

If critics asked ‘relative to what?’, then perhaps we would all understand better whether Partnership Schools are making a difference.”


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