Open letter to Jacinda Ardern

Open letter to Jacinda Ardern

I was completely dismayed to hear Chris Hipkins’ condemnation of the charter school system last week and his pledge to close all charter schools down by the end of the year. By the time he admitted that the government would, in fact, work to transition charter schools into other options, it was too late. He had lost all credibility and I simply do not believe his back-pedalling offer is in ‘good faith’.

Closing charter schools would be a huge mistake. Though not all the original charter schools in NZ have been successful, the remaining 11 schools have all passed the stringent checks and balances of the Education Department and are producing some outstanding results with their ‘priority learners.’

I have been a teacher at Middle School West Auckland since it opened in 2015 and my grandson, whom I’m raising, was a foundation pupil there. He was recently honoured to be selected on the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme along with three other students from the VET schools. His selection was a recognition of the positive steps he has made to overcome challenges in his life.

He is not alone in acknowledging the intervention, nurture, guidance and instruction he received at the school. His learning disability was supported and his academic confidence grew enormously, he learnt to manage his anger and he became a leader and a role model. He has matured into a young man of integrity with some lofty goals. Could this have happened if he’d remained in our local state school of over 2000 students with 30 in a class? I doubt it. He was already two to three years behind in reading and beginning to pick fights when I pulled him out.

Middle School West Auckland has set him on a positive path and I am full of gratitude. As a teacher, I have nothing but praise for my colleagues. We are a tight-knit bunch of some of the hardest-working and most dedicated teachers I have ever worked with. We teach the NZ curriculum. We are all registered. We have a growth mindset. As a charter school, we have the freedom to follow the established VET model and it works. It works.

The role of the government should be to encourage and expand schools such as ours, not threaten them with closure. Your own education policy seeks to place learners at the centre, focus on personalized learning, celebrate diversity, break down barriers – particularly financial, and have quality teaching. Why do you think these priorities can only happen in a public-school setting? This is the part of your policy which needs urgent review. The VET charter school model fits with your own policy priorities and it needs to be allowed to continue, exactly as it is.


Yours faithfully,

Liane Young

PS The photo below is you with my grandson, Stan Walker and Peeni Henare.

Dominic Elliot is honoured by the PM before she closes down his Partnership school. PHOTO supplied

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