If we go by the PM’s words Partnership schools will not be closed

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

Partnership schools quite understandably are very confused. The e-mail below which was sent to supporters yesterday highlights what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has publicly said on their fate. Her public statements have made it clear that they are safe and would not be closed down. So why then has Hitman Hipkins been tasked with closing them down?

Dear Supporters and Interested Parties

We are hoping to be working with a high integrity new government for the ongoing education of the 420 students (and future ones) attending South Auckland Middle School and Middle School West Auckland.

The public statements, over a long period, have been very positive and reassuring.

In this piece –

Labour to ‘tweak’ special character schools, save charter schools from closure”: leading up to last year’s election – several Labour MP’s – including Chris Hipkins made significant statements:

Under a Labour-led government charter schools will be repealed and the party’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins [now Minister of Education] said the options on the table for those schools would be anything from “closure to integration into the state school system.

On Monday, responding to Davis’ pledge to resign over them, Hipkins said “tweaks” would be made so there weren’t any “unnecessary barriers” for new special character schools.

But it would be fair to say discussions with some of the charter school operators has highlighted the problems with the special character model as it stands now.”

Under the special character changes Hipkins said it was “quite possible” the charter schools operating in Davis’ electorate would meet the criteria to transition.

Labour’s Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis [now an Associate Minister of Education] has promised he’ll resign before the two charter schools in his Northland electorate are closed. He says it’s an easy promise to make because the schools will only change in name.

A commitment to keep charter schools open was also made in May by Labour list candidate Willie Jackson, who was heavily involved with Te Kura Maori o Waatea, a charter school based in South Auckland.

Late last year – during question time in Parliament – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was equally positive – citing only three change requirements (NZ Curriculum, registered teachers, and same levels of funding – which in many situations would mean more funding for the Charter Schools). These requirements are easily met.

Her key statement was: “We are working alongside those schools to make sure that they have a pathway to remain open, we’re not asking much from them.”

The key question therefore is: Given these very reassuring public statements from our new government – why is the Ministry of Education telling our schools – that there is no transition option and that the contracts will be “terminated”?

These two schools are flying and parents, students & external evaluations tell us that we are providing something that is desperately needed. We are looking for support from the Minister to change the Special Character legislation (as promised), to transition (as promised), then to continue to grow and thrive and meet the needs of our families.


Credit: SB Whaleoil


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