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Charter Schools Establishment Money Could Be Spent On Over 700 Teacher Aides Instead

NZEI Te Riu Roa says today’s announcement of $153m for the establishment of a small number of new charter schools, an old idea that failed last time around, is money that is being diverted from an already diverse public education system.

Mark Potter, president of NZEI Te Riu Roa says that $153m could fully fund over 700 full time teacher aides at step 4.

“This is money we could put to desperately needed use in our public education system. Most teachers will tell you stronger learning support and smaller class sizes, so teachers can have more time with students, is the priority. A teacher aide for every child that needs one would begin to seriously address the increasing learning needs of our tamariki that are not currently being addressed. Charter schools are an expensive distraction and diversion of funds.”

The model was an expensive failure under the previous National government with an average annual operational cost per student of over $18,000, almost triple the average of around $6600 for public schools over the same period. Subsequent evaluations showed that very little educational innovation happened in charter schools.

“We know from research that the only innovation made last time around was in terms of governance and staffing; for instance charter schools were not required to hire qualified teachers. There was little real innovation in terms of curriculum, engagement with community and whānau.”

“Our union members care deeply about children’s learning conditions. We know that our schools are at the heart of our communities, there in times of need like during Cyclone Gabrielle. The National-led coalition Government’s intention to put public schools in the hands of private, profit-focused businesses, is an insult to the generations of communities who have built these schools up.”

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“It's also a policy that may not survive a change of government, so there’s great uncertainty for those schools looking at conversion or those starting from scratch. We have the answers in our already diverse public system. If the Government is serious about improving educational outcomes for children they could put $153m into learning support today.”

For evaluations of previous charter schools see:

https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/multi-year-evaluation-of-partnership-schools-kura-hourua-policy

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