BREAKING: Closure notices sent out to charter schools today

Villa Education Trust Press Release

The Villa Education Trust is delighted that Vanguard School has been able to announce a transition to a Designated Character School model.

Mr Hipkins fast-tracked and used that announcement as cover for issuing closure notices to all other Partnership Schools today.

The decision to announce the formal closure of the other schools before we have been able to have our Designated Character School applications processed is stressful in the extreme for our students/families/staff. The Ombudsman took the Ministry apart last year for their Christchurch processes – seems they either learnt nothing or don’t care. These were processes Mr Hipkins complained about in opposition.

We are also concerned that these closures are being announced while the selected committee considering the Education Amendment Act is still in process. In his release today the Minister made the statement that:

“I am considering additional measures to support charter schools to make a successful transition into the state system, and details are currently being worked through.”

We are very concerned about the accuracy of this comment because on April 11 the Ministry of Education communicated by letter with VET that Mr Hipkins would consider no legislative changes that would allow for:

  • continuance of ownership/governance.
  • any bulk funding mechanism, or
  • our staff being able to remain outside of the collective contract.

There are two things to note on this – one is that the submissions to the select committee
had not even closed at that point – making a mockery of that Parliamentary process. And secondly – we are unsure what “additional measures” are being considered given
that the Minister has already ruled out any legislative changes for Designated Character Schools that would better facilitate our model.

The Villa Education Trust believes that education having an open mind and being fully informed are incredibly important. In keeping with that (and a fully fair process) we have invited the Education and Work Select Committee to hold their Auckland hearings at South Auckland Middle School. We are awaiting a response.

The Hon Nikki Kaye made the following release today:

15 May 2018

Minister rides roughshod over partnership schools

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has engaged in a terrible process over partnership schools, ruling out changes to allow the schools to maintain aspects of the partnership school model that enable the success of their students before the Select Committee has deliberated on the matter, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“A letter released by a partnership school reveals that Mr Hipkins several weeks ago dismissed any possibility of changes to improve provisions for partnership schools as he forces them to become designated character or state integrated schools, including requested changes around governance, funding, and staff employment agreements.

“And this is all while the Select Committee is mid-way through hearing submissions on the Government’s policy to scrap the partnership school model. What’s the point of the Select Committee hearing submissions if the submissions are just going to be ignored?

“It is also clear that he is signing off some partnership schools under new models ahead of the Select Committee deliberations which, with his announcement today that all schools have received termination notices, makes a mockery of the Select Committee process.

“He has also confirmed that three schools’ contracts have ended. Mr Hipkins needs to confirm all funding and compensation paid so far, including if any legal action is expected.

“It’s highly unusual for a Minister to circumvent the Select Committee process, but not surprising given Mr Hipkins’ arrogant and close-minded approach to the matter so far.

“Last week he tried to celebrate that schools had applied to become either designated character schools or state integrated schools. Several schools pointed out that this was done under duress, given the legislation in Parliament to axe the partnership school model.

“The partnership school that released the letter has confirmed that it has asked that the Select Committee considers public hearings to be held at the school. Many of the families can’t afford flights to Wellington, and even getting across Auckland may be difficult for them.

“National will be supporting the push by the school and their students and families to have their voices heard. We hope Labour, NZ First and the Greens listen and ensure the school has the opportunity to directly speak to the committee.”

 


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