The schools that our Prime Minister won’t visit

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

Jacinda Ardern was quite happy to pose with winning students for photo opportunities when she was not aware that they were from charter schools and she has been on a whirlwind tour of many schools, enjoying the photo opportunities that can be had with smiling children. In fact, she has visited so many schools since coming to power that people have wondered if she has been avoiding the serious duties of a Prime Minister and is filling her days with easy, undemanding, photo opportunities as she counts down the days to the birth of her child.

The charter schools that have been begging her to visit, the ones that have outstanding results for Maori and Pasifika, she stubbornly continues to ignore along with the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.

In November, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Monitoring Group released a new report examining how New Zealand has put the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), also known as the Children’s Convention, into practice.

The report from the Children’s Convention Monitoring Group makes points that reinforce the need for Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins to visit the charter schools before closing them. Jacinda Ardern is a huge fan of being guided by the UN so she should seriously consider the views of the students attending the charter schools before making a final decision on their future.

The new report, titled Getting It Right: The Children’s Convention in Aotearoa (2017), makes three recommendations:

  1.  Build upon and expand the rollout of a child-centred, rights-based approach to policy and legislative reform while addressing the recommendations identified by the UN Committee. Identify where children’s rights are not being met, what needs to be done, who will do the work, timeframes for implementation and how the work will be monitored.
  2. Identify and resource a permanent coordinating mechanism so that lead government agencies have the responsibility and authority to implement the Children’s Convention.
  3. Ensure children and young people’s views are taken into consideration in the development of legislation and policies in line with the Children’s Convention.

‘Getting It Right: Building Blocks’ focuses on the factors that are needed for childrens success, including supporting their participation in decisions that affect them. We can only hope that Ardern and Hipkins will take the advice of these experts and will listen to the charter school students instead of the teacher unions who oppose them.

The final report by Martin Jenkins on charter schools contains pages of quotes from students interviewed about their charter schools. Their replies illustrate eloquently why the government must consider the views of students before proceeding any further down the destructive and irrevocable track of the termination of these successful and popular schools.

Act leader David Seymour sums up the many reasons why the schools need to be kept open. Quote.

Partnership schools are strongly focused on disadvantaged kids with complex needs. Students are largely Maori and Pasifika from low-decile schools. Before attending the Partnership Schools, many students were transient, disengaged, with poor academic histories and complex socio-economic needs. They often lacked positive aspirations and role models.

The schools are meeting learners’ needs using innovative practices and high-quality standards. Sponsors are driven by a vision to provide an alternative for students who have been underserved. Innovations enabled by the flexible funding model are across the board, in governance arrangements, staffing, student engagement and support, pedagogy, teaching and learning.

Student engagement has significantly improved. Stand-downs and length of suspensions are lower. Students give positive feedback. Whānau feel more involved and more confident communicating with schools. Very few learners are opting out.

It simply beggars belief that Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins would end an educational model that has delivered so much for students that have been so poorly served by our state system without consulting with those children.

I challenge the Prime Minister to meet with the disadvantaged children whose schools she is trying to shut down and listen to what they have to say. End of quote.

PHOTO-Supplied to Whaleoil
Dominic Elliot holding a sign: “Jacinda where is your support now?”


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