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Charter Schools’ Lack Of Transparency And Accountability Seriously Concerning

The Government is planning to keep secret huge amounts of information about how charter schools will operate, a recently released Cabinet paper shows.

The performance measures, objectives and key accountabilities, curriculum performance standards and minimum number of roles to be held by qualified teachers will all be contained in charter schools’ contracts which are not required to be available to school communities or the public.

“The lack of transparency is extremely concerning,” says Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua president. “Charter schools will not be covered by the Official Information Act like state schools are, there are no rights for any ongoing community representation as part of the governance. Once a school becomes a charter school it’s a massive black hole.”

State schools are required to consult with their communities to develop their school’s annual report, strategic plan and annual implementation plan. These documents must all be publicly available and show how boards will meet the objectives set out in the Education and Training Act 2020. Community representation, through the school board, is mandatory.

There will be no requirements for new charter schools to consult with impacted or interested parties – such as nearby local schools. I

Also, it appears they won’t have to consult on the health curriculum, and it is unclear if they will have to publish attendance data.

“Most concerning of all is that the Minister of Education will have the power to direct local schools to enter the conversion process for being a charter school based on 'government priorities' or 'based on state school performance’. This direction can happen without any input from the school board, the teachers, or the community.

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“This is a completely unjustified overreach of Ministerial power, when there are already proven interventions that can be made in the state system to support schools.

“We know from the last failed attempt that charter schools are unaccountable and the Minister’s own officials conclude 'it was unclear if the model had an impact on the academic achievement for specific learner groups'.

“Communities and school boards need to be very wary of what they are being sold. Instead of putting money into secret deals for charter schools, the Government needs to put taxpayers’ money where it belongs –

supporting the diverse range of public schools already available for New Zealand rangatahi.

List of provisions to be provided in secret contracts rather than legislation:

o Education performance measures

o Objectives and key accountabilities

o Curriculum performance standards

o Minimum number of specified roles to be held by qualified teachers

o Distance education requirements

o Performance outcomes, measures and targets

o Areas of non-performance requiring escalated interventions

o Triggers for interventions

o Property maintenance rates for parents

o Requirements for complaints and independent review process

o Transition process for converting schools

o Tolls and data used to measure each performance outcome area

o Reporting requirements

o Curriculum

o Qualifications offered

o Provisions for termination of contract

o Provisions for renewal of contract

o Hours and dates students required to attend

o Requirement to participate in national and international studies

o Performance information and frequency

o Person or body responsible for independent review of complaints

o Intervals at which to inform parents of student progress

o Progress updates on implementation plan

o Location and premises

o Transport for students

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