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New charter school model ignores findings of research

Pūkeko Research blog

New charter school model ignores findings of educational research

The unveiling of the partnership schools/ kura hourua model yesterday for NZ charter schools raises some key concerns for educational researchers. The main one is that all the reputable research around charter schools in other countries notes that educational ‘gains’ are often achieved by creaming off the best students from the lowest-performing schools. This lowers the average achievement at state schools and increases it at the charter school, allowing the school to meet its target.

Instead of requiring the new schools to take the most under-achieving students, the schools will be required to take any student who applies. Those who apply will be the best-motivated and best performing in the area, because their parents will feel safe to have them move schools. Children with multiple difficulties will not apply to get in, because their parents often have multiple difficulties too, and feel supported by their local school. Also, they may not have the resources to transport their child beyond the local school.

There is nothing in this model, except the location of the schools in areas of high deprivation, which will require the new schools to take low-achieving students. The plan, to the extent it was about this, is therefore already a failure before it starts.

The other research concern relates to the ability of schools to use anyone to teach – not just registered teachers. And, teachers will be outside the collective agreements of the teaching profession. The working party and the government needs to understand that New Zealand rates at the top of world rankings in schooling achievement significantly because of our insistence on high quality registered teachers teaching in good conditions. The idea of putting completely inexperienced teachers in front of classrooms full of children who live in poverty is extraordinary. It can only end in tears. There is no non-teacher magic bullet.


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