Chris Hipkins introduces a ‘third option’ for charter schools UPDATED


I was contacted just now by Nick Hyde from Vanguard who told me that Vanguard received its closure notice like everyone else yesterday.

Yesterday closure notices were sent to every New Zealand charter school apart from Vanguard military school who has had its application to transition to a designated character school model accepted. This is great news for Vanguard who like every other partnership school was forced at metaphorical gunpoint to apply as they would be terminated otherwise.

While it is great news that Vanguard successfully ran the gauntlet the announcement was cynically used to provide cover for the distressing and stressful news that ‘termination notices’ on the same day had been sent to all the other partnership schools.

The ‘termination’ notices were a notification that the termination ‘process’ (which apparently will include negotiation) had started. They were not notices of termination. The government’s intention is to try to complete all the closures by the end of the year as legally they have to give six months notice of an ‘intention’ to close a school.

Graeme Osbourne of E Tipu e Rea, however, has picked up a chink in Education minister Chris Hipkins’ statement about the process saying that Hipkins has introduced a third option. Quote:

Although E Tipu e Rea Chief Executive Graeme Osborne was full of praise for Vanguard’s application to establish a new State School being approved by the Minister, he expressed concern at what seemed to be the late introduction of a third and previously unannounced option for existing Charter Schools. Minister Hipkins media release made it clear that a new third option was available to Charter Schools when he said

‘… the school won’t continue to operate as a charter school beyond this year unless this is mutually agreed’. 

While Osborne welcomed the news, he questioned the appropriateness and timing of this announcement given that the same option was clearly not available to Vanguard Military School.

Osborne also pointed to Minister Hipkins announcement confirming that he was “considering additional measures to support charter schools to make a successful transition into the state system, and details are currently being worked through.” Although welcoming of any effort to facilitate a ‘successful transition into the state system’ Osborne expressed concern that the transition process from Charter School to State School was being managed and developed ‘on the run’ and ‘in a rush’, with, for example, ‘procurement risk’ coming from the possibility that late changes such as this should have been factored into the state school application process.’End of quote.


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