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Hundreds Of Millions Needed For Local State Schools – Not Charter Schools

All students in Aotearoa New Zealand have a right to a high quality education at their local state school.

Pouring $153 million of public money into charter schools when New Zealand’s state schools are already full of innovation and opportunity, is wasteful, says Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua president.

“At the very time where every cent of public money is being scrutinised, it is unbelievable that hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into charter schools with no accountability to the public or their local communities.”

“Talk to any principal or teacher and they will be able to tell you about initiatives that they are desperate for funding for, to meet the needs of the students in their schools, whether that is supporting attendance initiatives, learning support, food in schools, relationships and participation with the local community - the list goes on.

“When charter schools were introduced under the last National-ACT coalition there was no evidence that they improved educational outcomes despite funding each student at least six times more than state school students. There remains no compelling evidence that charter schools can achieve the claims being made of them by the Associate Minster for Charter Schools. The fact that all but one former charter school have been re-integrated into the public school system shows there was no need for them in the first place.

Chris Abercrombie said evidence from the United Kingdom charter school / academy experiment overwhelmingly showed there are no better educational outcomes for kids. It also showed that local autonomy and decision making had been completely removed. “Communities will rightfully be dismayed by the thought of their local school being converted without any accountability or agreement of the community required.

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Chris Abercrombie said today’s announcement contained no details of what professional support would be available for teachers in schools that converted to charter schools. “The idea of teaching in a school with no requirement to teach the curriculum, with no access to centralised professional learning and development or assessment support, and alongside unqualified teachers, will not be an attractive option.”

He said Mr Seymour’s statement about charter schools being able to help students engage with learning differently was gobsmacking, given the evidence that exactly these kinds of students are rejected by overseas charter schools in order to meet their targets. “Nor has Mr Seymour explained what happens to the children if a charter school is closed or how the disruption to their education is managed.

“Teachers, students and communities are becoming increasingly confused about exactly what this Government’s policies are in the education space - it’s going in all directions at the ideological whim of the various parties. Mr Seymour’s announcement today does not give us any confidence or clarity that this Government has a clear direction for education. Our students deserve much better.”

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