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Partnership schools thriving despite uncertain future

New Zealand’s partnership schools have full to overflowing rolls at the start of the new academic year, despite an uncertain future.

The number of students enrolled at Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua has increased from 1274 last year to 1487 in 2018. Several schools have waiting lists.

This is despite the new Government’s stated intentions to disestablish the partnership school model.

Graeme Osborne is Chief Executive of E Tipu E Rea, an independent organisation established to support and develop partnership schools.

Mr Osborne says the strong demand for space in the existing schools, as well as the new schools that have opened this year, is testament to the impact that partnership schools are having on student success.

“Partnership schools are having particular success in progressing Maori and Pasifika students that have been failed by mainstream education,” he says.

“It’s not fair for the new Government to keep these schools and their communities in limbo. Partnership schools are obviously doing well and need to have their futures secured as soon as possible.”

One of the schools, Vanguard Military School on Auckland’s North Shore, has a full roll of 192 students. The school also has a waiting list of 65.

Vanguard Chief Executive Nick Hyde says some parents are now enrolling younger siblings of students who have benefitted from the school, which opened in 2014.

“We have had another year of great academic results,” he says. “Parents are very supportive of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Parent Ilaisaane Tu’akalau, whose daughter Victory has just completed year 13 at Vanguard, has encouraged her cousin to enrol her son at the school this year.

“Based on Victory’s experience, I believe it’s the best school for him. He’s only been there a few days and already he is more communicative and assured,” she says.

Victory gained University Entrance and plans to study criminology.

“The structure and discipline [at Vanguard] gave Victory an enormous amount of confidence and enabled her to really develop her leadership skills.

“I hope that Vanguard is given the opportunity to continue as they are and give more young people the opportunity to develop their character.”

Karen Poole, Chief Executive of the Villa Education Trust, says its South Auckland Middle School roll is full with a waiting list. Another of the Trust’s schools, West Auckland Middle School, is close to full with a high number of enquiries.

“Families are still choosing to enrol with us because of what we have to offer. They see it as a better option, even with the uncertainty surrounding future of partnership schools,” she says.

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