Partnership schools have entered the boxing ring against Hitman Hipkins

They are not going to go down without a fight and a letter obtained via the tip-line shows that they are gearing up to take on Hitman Hipkins.

Hitman: Education Minister Chris Hipkins plans to eliminate Partnership schools
Credit: Luke

The letter is addressed to the Partnership Schools Authorisation Board and it thanks the board for the supportive letter it sent to all the Partnership schools at the end of 2017. The board has been invited to meet with the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins and the letter is a request that the board use their influence to powerfully advocate for the changes Partnership schools will need if they are to continue and grow.

[…] Much is being made publically by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education on a “transition” to them being Special Character schools. This is highly ironic for two reasons. Firstly – the Villa Education Trust investigated this pathway years ago (under a previous Labour government) and were firmly rebuffed. Secondly – on July 30th last year I met briefly with Jacinda Ardern. Her clear and obviously thought through response was: “You have shown us the inadequacy of our Special Character School policy.” It is also of interest to note that the Ministry have been telling us quite different things to the government.

This confirms what I have said previously about Labour lying to Partnership school operators. There is no pathway to staying open. Once Hitman Hipkins closes them they will stay closed. The offer for them to reapply for a transition to a Special Character school after they are closed is a total sham.

In question time in Parliament recently the Prime Minister put some conditions […] that are easily – and already – met by our schools. These were;

that the schools have registered teachers. This is already the case with exceptions similar to the recently expanded State School exceptions for Limiter Authorities to Teach.

that the schools teach the NZ Curriculum. This is also already the case.

that the schools operate on the same cost to taxpayers as State Schools. This is the case already in terms of annual operations for the equivalent size, decile and year level. Where this has scope to cost the taxpayer money is that the Charter Schools are woefully funded for establishment (approximately 5% of State) and not funded at all for expansion. Hence, for example, South Auckland Middle School has huge wait-lists but no adequate contractual provision to solve this.

Given that the Prime Minister mentioned no other change requirements for the schools and has acknowledged the inadequacy of the Special Character policy the changes needed to the policy/legislation become very obvious.

1) A change to allow the continuation of the ownership and governance structures of the current Charter Schools. They have shown a clear need in New Zealand for privately operated and State funded niche schools effectively reaching students and families who are otherwise failing.

2) A change to allow the continuation of bulk funding for these schools. This is what gives the schools choices with provision of services to families and the structure of the school day, etc. This comes at absolutely no extra cost to the taxpayer and has not been mentioned as being any issue by the new government.

3) A change to allow teachers in Special Character schools to be outside the national award; i.e. able to be individually contracted. Again, this allows for the flexibility that allows a more differentiated model (including day structure, contact hours and providing incentives to work with “priority learners”). This also creates no extra cost to the taxpayer.

This is a policy that needs growth and enhancement. The changes required are cost neutral and highly beneficial to the children and families who are clearly making progress under this model. The government may have to also look at better establishment and expansion funding and processes.

Given that the Minister of Education seems determined not to meet with any of the schools at this point – we are asking that you would be our voice on the proposals above.[…]

It is shocking that Hitman Hipkins is refusing to meet with the Partnership schools. What kind of a hitman can’t even look his target in the eye when he pulls the trigger?


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