ACT: Chris Hipkins’ Charter Schools Abolition Bill “irritating”

Strong Demand

Opposition to Partnership Schools runs against demand from educators and families. Twenty-six different groups applied for an advertised two contracts in the latest application round.  In addition, existing schools have filled rapidly and in some cases have had to construct waiting lists.

Maori Backing the Policy

Perhaps due to the poor outcomes in other school types, and the early success of Kura Hourua, the Iwi Leaders’ Forum declared an official position supporting the policy in 2015.  Labour, despite hoping to win Maori seats in 2017, have not acknowledged this.

Registered Teachers Not a Panacea

Opponents haven’t traded in the facts when it comes to Partnership Schools.  One example is that they say Partnership Schools employ ‘unqualified teachers.’  The law allows Partnership Schools to nominate a percentage of positions to be filled by staff not registered with EDUCANZ if they have the ‘skills, qualifications and experience’ to help kids.  Several Partnership Schools have used this freedom to hire outstanding individuals.

Funding the Same

Opponents are misleading the public that Partnership Schools are funded at a higher rate than other schools.  As recently as a week ago Hipkins had said Partnership Schools were funded at five times the rate of State Schools.  We suspect he’s known all along that all schools are funded more at start up and per student funding declines as the school approaches its target roll.

Hipkins not Doing his Job

Chris Hipkins has asked only 30 questions on education since the election, and ten of them were about Partnership Schools.  By contrast, the hard working Labour Health spokesperson Annette King has asked 45 questions about a wide range of health issues this term.

…Not Even Visiting a Partnership School

Chris Hipkins could promise to visit all Partnership Schools and apologise to the staff, students and community for spreading misinformation about them.  This would be a particularly brave and magnanimous move from someone who has previously declined all invitations from the schools.

Early Results Promising

ERO reports from new Partnership Schools have been glowing, for example: “Students respond positively to teachers’ high expectations. The students we talked to were very positive about the school. They reported that they get plenty of individual help from their teachers, and that, while some of the work is hard, they enjoy the challenge and variety of learning in this way.”

Charter Schools Succeeding Overseas

After claiming that charter schools have failed overseas, it’s time for opponents to accept they were wrong all along, with evidence from Stanford University’s Center for Research in Educational Outcomes on the U.S., the C.D. Howe Institute on Canada, and the Institute for Economic Affairs on Sweden showing the opposite.

Fast Closure is a Strength

The policy has closed Whangaruru school Te Pumanawa o te Wairua, having given it one chance to improve its operations.  Poorly performing schools should be closed regardless of type and Partnership Schools allow this to happen.

Greater Accountability

Partnership Schools are required to file quarterly reports to the Authorisation Board in addition to ERO reviews.  They can have their contracts terminated for breaching performance targets, as Te Pumanawa discovered.  No New Zealand schools have ever been held to this level of accountability.

Live and Let Live

Opponents of Partnership Schools require a basic change in attitude.  Partnership Schools are a useful initiative that may address one of our country’s more urgent challenges, educational inequality.  These schools are filled with real people deserving of respect and should not be politically abused.


Despite wonderful people doing wonderful things for kids in Partnership Schools Kura Hourua, Labour and the teachers’ unions can’t help but feel threatened so knock the schools at every opportunity.

The Luck of the Draw

Sadly Chris Hipkins’ Charter Schools Abolition Bill has been drawn from the members’ ballot and, if passed, it would end the policy and the schools as we know them.  The Bill will not pass, but it is rather irritating.




THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • George Carter

    What is particularly galling about this whole affair is that Labours’ opposition to school is driven purely by their union puppet masters and their own ideology. Because they’re not willing to consider something that may be good for the people they are not fit to govern the people.

    • SavetheBees

      Union Puppet Masters? Not sure what union meeting you are going to, but the ones I attend we dont move motions or have any discussions on telling any party on what to do. Do you not that think that maybe the members of the labour party are pushing this and those members who are teachers maybe.

      To say the unions are controlling labour is pretty far fetched, also teacher unions have members to look after, and members behaviour alone keeps the union busy.

      Just because something is popular doesnt make it right.

      • George Carter

        I don’t have a lot of time for unions and through my own personal experience they were more interested in looking after themselves rather than their members.

        As for unions controlling Labour, the current leader wouldn’t be so if not for the block of union votes so i’ll leave you to work that one out.

        You’re absolutely right that just because something is popular doesn’t make it right. At the same time doing the same things, just because you’ve always done it that way, doesn’t make it right either. There are too many children failing in the current education system and something new had to be tried.

        • SavetheBees

          In the context of charter schools, PPTA doesnt have a vote in Labour Leadership, or any say in the party itself. Only if people where members of both.

          Im sad you have not had a great union experience.

          I think its easier to address formal education than address the unformal education that happens in the home. or doesnt happen in the home.

          Imagine if a party said this is what we say are good behaviours of a parent, this is what a good home looks like, that will give some real change to those in the tail.

          • George Carter

            I dare say we’ll agree to disagree on most things but I do agree with your last point about telling people what are considered to be good behaviours as a parent. Unfortunately the howls from the constantly offended would drown out any viable message on that one!

  • oldmanNZ

    What is the reason, if I may ask Chris, to close the school?
    Is it because its not union driven? That is the only reason we can see.

    he only ask 10 question against charter school because its very difficult to find any fault with them.

    • SavetheBees

      The system is set up to protect charter schools and borderline withhold or hide information that helps those against to get evidence. Chris only asked ten questions cos that how stupid he is. Put anyone who has a backbone to ask charter schools questions and you will start to see the real condition charter schools are in.

  • JohnO

    Labour cannot afford to jettison the Maori vote so soon after they jettisoned it over ownership of the foreshore. Andrew Little will be squirming over this bill and hoping it will not again alienate Labour from their most reliable voters….Maori. The Maori party will be looking to gain traction if Labour does indeed blunder on this issue.

  • rexabus

    ” someone who has previously declined all invitations from the schools.” Says it all really. The worst sort of political partisanship – Completely blinkered.

  • Dave

    I sincerely hope that mr Hipkins is well and truely rinsed in 2017, the people in Rumitaka need to know exactly what he is doing and a good candidate is likely to use this as ammunition.

    Perhaps instead of trying to shut them down, Hipkins can come up with some PROPER and CREDIBLE policy to fix the very issues Charter Schools have been so successful at addressing.

    To the MSM: ACT have kindly given you a question list, you should read the other articles on Charter Schools on WO and then ask Hipkins why, and call him on his hypocrisy and union support. Also ask Little, the leader of the party. You are the team who has had one of their own shout “no matter what we say, no attend what we do……… Nothing is shifting the polls”. (Or similar). It’s all laid out for you, now go for it, someone might get Hippy or Little as a journalistic scalp.

  • Keyser Soze

    Well there you go again, trying to use yer fandangaled logic and common sense when trying to have a conversation with fundamentalist union driven fruitcakes…

  • Whitey

    Chippy disgusts me. This bill makes it very clear that he doesn’t care about the kids who are currently doing well in charter schools. Kids who were failed by the state system, and who now have a shot at a decent future thanks to charter schools. No, Chippy is happy to throw these kids under the bus for the sake of his union mates, and if Chippy is happy to throw kids under the bus we can reasonably assume he’ll be happy to throw their parents under the bus as well.

    And Labour wonder why they’re so far down in the polls. Every time they do something like this they show the voters what kind of people they really are.

    • George Carter

      Now come on Whitey, you can’t possibly give the poorest in society an opportunity to better themselves to more than a life on benefit. If they all move off the benefit who will be left to vote for Labour?

  • SavetheBees

    Maori Backing the Policy, that interesting cos there is nothing stopping maori to establish a school of special character, however the charter school route seems to be easier. Since state schools have tagged funding, charter schools are like bulk funding they have no rules around how they spend their money.

    Greater Accountability is mentioned, yet still not to the same level as state schools. How about if state schools were given the same freedom in reporting and freedom from acts, such as the education act, then state schools would improve results as well, maybe. Would become a fair play ground to compare apples and apples.

    Its interesting that research in favour is mentioned, yet no research against is mentioned, balance?

    Remember we are only seeing results and since their teachers are not trained to the same standards, how reliable is the information? Are they at national standard? How is the schools moderation? results that teachers pass and then nzqa moderators fail? How much of it is made up or fudged to look better than it is? And since they dont have the same reporting as state schools how are they being fairly compared to each other.

    It seems that those who want charter schools want them regardless of the real cost to society and the evidence. And they want public money taken out of education into profit for trusts. With no legal requirement to put those profits back into the school.

    • SaggyNaggy

      Apply everything you just said to supermarkets, and if anything doesn’t sound ridiculously silly, you can leave it in, and you’ll be ready to present valid arguments against charter schools.

    • Whitey

      State schools do not get tagged funding. They get money labelled for things like maintenance, careers advice, Maori language immersion programs etc. but in fact they can spend the money however they like. The Ministry trusts schools to manage their own finances. Decile funding, for example, is officially called Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement, but schools aren’t required to demonstrate that they used the money to improve disadvantaged students’ achievement. There are no rules about how the money should be spent.

      The only real difference between charter schools and state schools is that charter schools also have to pay salaries out of the money the Ministry gives them, whereas state schools get assigned a number of teaching positions based on the number of kids they have, and the Ministry pays all the teachers’ salaries.