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Minister rides roughshod over partnership schools

15 May 2018

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has engaged in a terrible process over partnership schools, ruling out changes to allow the schools to maintain aspects of the partnership school model that enable the success of their students before the Select Committee has deliberated on the matter, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“A letter released by a partnership school reveals that Mr Hipkins several weeks ago dismissed any possibility of changes to improve provisions for partnership schools as he forces them to become designated character or state integrated schools, including requested changes around governance, funding, and staff employment agreements.

“And this is all while the Select Committee is mid-way through hearing submissions on the Government’s policy to scrap the partnership school model. What’s the point of the Select Committee hearing submissions if the submissions are just going to be ignored?

“It is also clear that he is signing off some partnership schools under new models ahead of the Select Committee deliberations which, with his announcement today that all schools have received termination notices, makes a mockery of the Select Committee process.

“He has also confirmed that three schools’ contracts have ended. Mr Hipkins needs to confirm all funding and compensation paid so far, including if any legal action is expected.

“It’s highly unusual for a Minister to circumvent the Select Committee process, but not surprising given Mr Hipkins’ arrogant and close-minded approach to the matter so far.

“Last week he tried to celebrate that schools had applied to become either designated character schools or state integrated schools. Several schools pointed out that this was done under duress, given the legislation in Parliament to axe the partnership school model.

“The partnership school that released the letter has confirmed that it has asked that the Select Committee considers public hearings to be held at the school. Many of the families can’t afford flights to Wellington, and even getting across Auckland may be difficult for them.

“National will be supporting the push by the school and their students and families to have their voices heard. We hope Labour, NZ First and the Greens listen and ensure the school has the opportunity to directly speak to the committee.”

ends

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