English versus Ardern on Partnership Schools

Soon departing Leader of the Opposition Bill English questioned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about Partnership Schools yesterday.

1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all of her Government’s policies?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister):Yes.

Rt Hon Bill English: In light of her statement that, “we want to say hand on heart we want to be a society judged on how we look after our vulnerable”, is she aware that many of the children in partnership schools are vulnerable, so why is she moving to close those schools?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said yesterday, we are working as closely as we can with those schools to transition them, to make sure that those children have the best quality education, and that includes making sure they have registered teachers and they’re being taught the curriculum.

Rt Hon Bill English: When the Prime Minister uses the word “transition”, is she aware that the legislation her Government introduces certainly closes the partnership schools—it makes their closure absolutely certain because legislation will be passed to achieve it—but there is no guarantee those schools will be able to reopen?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It ends the model. It stops future contracts. But it still allows this Government to negotiate with those schools to try and keep them open if they are willing to have registered teachers and to teach the curriculum.

Rt Hon Bill English: What guarantee can she give to the students and parents of the partnership schools, which she is legislating to close, that they will be allowed to reopen with some other status?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we’ve said, we’re stopping any opening in the future. With those who are currently operating, we’ve said we want to work constructively with them. There is the ability for them to operate as special character schools or even, perhaps, as alternative education operators and providers, and that’s the work that the Ministry of Education is undertaking with them, as we speak. What I would like to give them is the assurance that we are working diligently on this. I know that some of the rhetoric coming from the Opposition isn’t helping with their security, but that’s what we’re doing.

Rt Hon Bill English: Can I ask the question again. What guarantee can the Prime Minister give that a partnership school will be able to reopen, a guarantee that is necessary for the peace of mind of the students, and the parents, who attend those schools and may not be familiar with the legal niceties she’s referring to?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we’ve said, I can assure those parents, if the school in which their child is attending is willing to have registered teachers to teach to the curriculum and to operate with the same kind of funding parameters, generally speaking, as State schools, then that is exactly what we are seeking from those schools. Ultimately, those parents will want to probably have those same assurances from those current providers because a lot of this decision sits in their hands too.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is it now the case that if the schools close, it’s the schools’ fault not the Government’s and that she won’t actually offer a guarantee that schools will be able to reopen and, therefore, parents and students should be told the truth now rather than be misled through months of complex legal negotiations?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If these schools have at their heart the best education for their kids, then I imagine they should be able to transition.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Is the Prime Minister aware that existing partnership schools are being urged to close rather than negotiate with the Ministry of Education in good faith, and that that urging is coming from Opposition members of Parliament?

Mr SPEAKER: No, no. I’m going to disallow that supplementary. I think the Leader of the House has a special standard, and he’s going to stick with it.

Rt Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity to visit Pacific Advance Senior School, as I did on Monday, talk to the staff and the students, hear the stories of the way that school has changed the lives of those 13-, 14-year-old girls, and 16-, 17-year-old boys, of whom, as the Government says, there’s only 1,000, so it won’t matter much—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Bill English: Will she visit a school, look them in the eye, hear the stories, and reassure them that the Government guarantees the continuation of that school?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I am going to let the Prime Minister answer it, but I am also going to remind the father of the House that in the last couple of weeks I’d like him to set a very good example, which involves succinct questions, and just to warn people, especially sitting very close to him, if they ask one that long, it will be ruled out.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That assumes that I haven’t met and spoken to students from charter schools and those who teach there before—I have. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone who works in a charter school where they said they were absolutely confident that because they have registered teachers and teach the curriculum, they could transition and will.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware that as part of this shambles, education officials told a select committee this morning that the closures could cost up to $15 million?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the constant framing from the Opposition around closures when this Government is working—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: It’s your law. It’s your bill.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Let me explain to Mr Smith, if he listens closely: we will not enter into any future contracts. We will negotiate with existing schools to try and transition them. It is that side of the House that is scaremongering and trying to cost the taxpayer money.

Rt Hon Bill English: So is the Prime Minister unaware, first, that her legislation guarantees the closure—legislates the closure—of the schools and, secondly, that the Government will have contractual obligations of up to a million dollars per school if the schools are closed as partnership schools, regardless of the nature of a transition?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I know that the member understands this. We’re ending the model. That doesn’t stop the ability of a school to start operating as a school of special character.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: A point—was Nikki Kaye’s a point of order or a question?

Hon Nikki Kaye: A point of order. The Prime Minister did not answer the question by the Leader of the Opposition. There were twofold points there, and she should answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think she addressed the question, which is the requirement.

David Seymour: I seek your guidance: at what point—

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member will sit down. It’s not the Speaker’s role to do tutorials here; I’m willing to give the member one in my office later.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m not seeking your guidance. I want to know: at what point is the Prime Minister misleading the House when she introduces legislation—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat, and he’s lost his supplementaries for this week. He knows well that to accuse a member of misleading the House in the House in that manner is disorderly. If he’s got any supplementaries left for this week, he doesn’t anymore.


Of note is Chris Hipkins adding a question that was disallowed. He had an opportunity to push his case for his actions as Minister of Education  on Partnership Schools in the General Debate that followed, but he chose to waste Parliament’s time with pettiness instead – see Petty Parliament

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11 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  February 15, 2018

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz/………………..

    Reply
  2. David

     /  February 15, 2018

    Mallard gets confused between being Speaker or Jacinda,s work Dad.

    Reply
  3. I had hopes for Mallard at the start but not so much now.
    He learnt little playing the bovver boy especially how to contain biases

    Reply
  4. lurcher1948

     /  February 15, 2018

    Yawn,national doesn’t really care about charter schools,it was the bribe they gave to ACT, to stay in power remember them,ACT the party of dodgy pasts DG and bad dancing skills(whats his name RH) at the moment a party of one.rather pathetic person really…just saying

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 15, 2018

      So nobody cares about the kids and their parents, especially you, Lurch?

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  February 15, 2018

        Plenty of public schools out there, only thing they will need to have to behave themselves.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 15, 2018

          The ones we saw on the news seemed to be a wonderful ad for these schools.

          Reply
        • Trevors_elbow

           /  February 15, 2018

          Yeah. Brilliant caring leftie attitude on display Lurch… You get one option… the State one, unless your parents are wealthy and can go private. Kids come second for you it seems

          Reply
  5. Zedd

     /  February 15, 2018

    Yes its just a distraction.. 9 LOOOOOOOONG years of doing ‘bugger all’ but allowing the ‘markets to rule’ & now they have this ‘new found social conscience’

    “Follow the MONEY” sez I

    Im guessing all the 1000s of questions & points of order, did not work to bring the Govt. down in the first 100 days, so they have moved to ‘plan B’ : FEAR-mongering on everything/anything to get the public attention.. pretend that they actually care, about anything besides ‘Crony capitalism’ 😦 :/

    Reply

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