Charter school report – ‘most parents happy’

A report into Partnership Schools says that there have been positive results and most parents are happy, but it was too soon to judge academic achievement.

David Seymour says that it justifies a reversing of the current Government policy to close Partnership Schools, but Minister of Education Chris Hipkins says “does not tell us much” apart from what students and parents thought about the schools. Isn’t that kind of important and relevant?

RNZ: Charter school report silent on educational achievement

Students at charter schools are being stood down less frequently than they were at other schools and most parents are happy with the schools’ performance, a report commissioned by the previous government says.

However, the report by consultancy firm Martin Jenkins, the third in a series, failed to cover the schools’ academic achievement because they had not been operating long enough and their NCEA data was presented in a way that was not comparable to that of other schools.


The report said its authors worked with the Education Ministry to shift the focus of the evaluation away from student outcomes in part because it was too early to determine the schools’ success.

“Schools/kura were still becoming established, numbers of students that had received a ‘full dose’ of the PSKH [Partnership School Kura Hourua] intervention were low, and efforts were ongoing by the Ministry to define and agree contracted outcomes,” the report said.

The report has been published at a critical time for the schools, which must apply to join the state school system as special or designated character schools or face closure.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins…

…said the report “does not tell us much” beyond an insight into what students and parents thought about the schools.

“It doesn’t tell us for example about academic achievement and progress and obviously that’s where a lot of the attention really should be focused.”

ACT MP David Seymour: Hipkins must reverse charters decision after glowing report

“The Education Minister must now reverse his decision to close Partnership Schools after the final report from independent consultants Martin Jenkins painted a glowing picture of the model”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The report cuts through the spin on Partnership Schools, delivering blow after blow to Government’s hopes it could kill off the model quietly.

“The final report shows 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 is no exaggeration to say that this is the most positive news our education system has had for some time.

“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

“The Government must now reverse its position on Partnership Schools”, says Mr Seymour.

Last year an earlier Jenkins report: NZ’s charter schools given good report card

Most of the first eight charter schools are good at teaching and testing children from Māori, Pasifika and poor backgrounds, an independent evaluation says.

“All schools/kura report that high proportions of their students have poor achievement histories and are achieving below the age/stage-related standards that could be expected on entry to the school/kura,” it said.

It said the schools showed mostly good and in some cases innovative practice in their approaches to working with the children.

Last month from Seymour: Why is Hipkins Hiding the Final Charter Schools Report?

ACT Leader David Seymour is questioning why Education Minister Chris Hipkins is suppressing the final Martin Jenkins evaluation of charter schools.

“I wonder if Mr Hipkins is not bullying Martin Jenkins into modifying the report to talk down the schools?”, asks Mr Seymour.

In 2014, the Ministry of Education contracted Martin Jenkins to deliver an independent evaluation of the performance of the charter school model. Its reports were to be delivered between 2014 and 2017.

“The first report found the flexibility of the model was enabling charter schools to deliver ‘innovative educational provision for students who have been under-served by the education system.’

“In its second report, Martin Jenkins said charter schools were reaching priority students – those at higher risk of not achieving.

“The final report appears to have been completed, but not released. What does it contain? Why is Chris Hipkins hiding it? Is the Minister having the report altered to suppress glowing reviews about charter schools?

“Chris Hipkins can’t hide the report forever. At some point, New Zealanders are going to learn what 1500 students already know: charter schools change lives for the better”, says Mr Seymour.

It isn’t hidden any more, but is seems unlikely that Hipkins will change his mind about Charter Schools, he (and the teacher unions) has been always strongly opposed to them.

Closing the schools has been awkward for Labour as some of their Maori MPs have been involved in and support partnership schools. They may stay open but under a different description.

Save Charter Schools Rally

ACT (David Seymour) organised a rally to protest against Government (Chris Hipkins) handling of Partnership Schools, commonly referred to as charter schools:

“This Sunday, Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins will hear directly from students and parents who are devastated by their decision to close Partnership Schools”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government this week decided to disregard the popularity and success of the schools opting instead to listen to the teachers’ unions.

“Partnership Schools are working. Over 1500 students attend the fledgling schools, most of which have had to turn students away due to rapid growth. Struggling kids are having their lives turned around.

“Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Education have visited a Partnership School, nor have they spoken to any of the sponsors of the schools they plan to shut down.

“On Sunday, they will get a chance to listen to the people they have so blatantly disregarded”, says Mr Seymour.

Hipkins seems to be driving an agenda on behalf of the teacher unions who strongly opposed partnership schools, with criticism of a lack of consultation with the schools that currently have contracts to operate.

ACT has a petition here (no numbers of signatories given):



The kids who go to partnership schools tend to be round bricks in a square education hole.

There was a sizable attendance on a wet day for an issue affecting a small number of people:

Stuff – Seymour: Govt’s ‘weasel’ words on charter school move

ACT leader David Seymour labelled Education Minister Chris Hipkins a “weasel” over legislation to scrap charter schools.

The Labour-led Government was “arrogant” in its consultative approach with charter schools, the MP for Epsom – and the political architect of such schools – said.

Seymour made the comments marching in driving rain with dozens of charter school pupils, their families and supporters up Auckland’s Queen St on Sunday.

Seymour labelled Hipkins a “weasel – so far he’s hiding behind misinformation”.

“He’s refusing to front up to the people that he’s truly affecting”.

“If he thinks making these schools into state schools keeping their special character that attracted the kids in the first place then he does not understand education let alone partner schools.”

“We’re here today to send a message to the government they cannot arrogantly cancel theses kids’ futures.

“If they wanted to be in a state school, they’d be in a state school – why take away their choice?”

Seymour said 12 existing and four planned charter schools officially given the previous National Government’s approval would be affected if the new government’s legislation passes.

“More than 1500 pupils” would lose the schooling their parents had chosen for them, Seymour said.

Several uniformed pupils from Albany’s military academy style Vanguard Military School attended the march.

“I hope the government will realise they’ve made an error that they need to take a take a step back and realise the success of these schools and ask themselves if they shouldn’t be keeping the partnership school model in some form rather than chopping it off the knees before they’ve even really consulted anybody.”

First-time protester Jan Franklin said she was marching “because I believe in these charter schools”.

Despite all his children being educated in state schools, Warkworth resident Barry Houlbrooke said he was there because he “liked the concept of charter schools”.

“I just want to get Jacinda [Ardern] out of education I just want to see people educate their kids outside the state system.”

The vast majority will be happy to remain in traditional type state schools, but they fail a significant number of children who for various reasons don’t fit in to normal education.

Hipkins is determined to deliver a promise made to education unions who support Labour, despite strong concerns of a number of Maori MPs – charter schools are popular as a Maori orientated alternative style of education.

Key questions:

  • Do Partnership Schools provide an effective alternative to kids who have failed in mainstream education?
  • Could ‘special character schools’ do as well within the State system?


What now for Partnership Schools?

Dominion Post editorial: How to fix the problems with charter schools

They are officially called Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua in New Zealand, the editorial didn’t refer to them as this at all.

Charter schools pose a number of problems for the coalition government. Labour had made it clear for a long time that it opposed the schools. But now it seems that the government can’t stop some planned charter schools from opening because of contracts signed with the previous government.

Education MInister Chris Hipkins is, as a result, pedalling back from his earlier statement that four new charter schools due to open in 2019 wouldn’t go ahead. It seems fairly clear that the new government can’t renegue on contracts signed by the former one. The law is the law.

That, however, is a passing problem born out of the transition between governments. In future, Labour will prevent any new charter schools, as it is entitled to do. It has campaigned against charter schools and promised to stop them.

In that, it has a far better mandate to stop further schools than the National-led Government ever had for introducing therm in the first place. The charter schools were cooked up in a deal between National and its helper party Act.

The charter schools represented a major shift in education policy promoted by a tiny far-right party whose voter support was negligible.

Agreed to by a majority in Parliament in 2011, passed by five votes. That’s more than the three vote majority that the current government has, so it was a better mandate.

The coalition has a political problem with charter schools because some important characters in its ranks, such as Willie Jackson, have previously been outspoken supporters of the schools.

And some eminent Labourites such as Michael Cullen have wondered how a progressive government might allow for more choice and experimentation in education than under the present system.

The motivation of Māori leaders such as Jackson is understandable enough. The education system is clearly still unsuited for too many Māori students. The gap between Pakeha and Māori achievement in schools remains disturbingly large. So some Maori leaders turned to charter schools as allowing a new and freer way of aiding poor Māori students.

The system certainly needs enough flexibility and scope to allow experimentation and new approaches to this fundamental problem. The question is: how to allow this while removing the grave problems associated with charter schools?

Grave problems?

David commented:

Have to rank as probably the stupidest editorial ever, I think it was dictated by the teachers union. Inevitably Charter schools will remain and be given a different name, as will National Standards, the TPP etc etc. because they are popular with Maori, with parents and with the people who make the money that funds all the extravagance.

If a government wants to shut down what has now proven to help the most disadvantaged in society for no other reason than their key donors demand it then that is a betrayal to all you told us all you stood for.



Partnership schools “mostly good”

A generally positive report card for the controversial (in the Labour Party) partnership schools (charter schools).

RNZ: NZ’s charter schools given good report card

Most of the first eight charter schools are good at teaching and testing children from Māori, Pasifika and poor backgrounds, an independent evaluation says.

The report (PDF, 2.8MB) by the firm Martin Jenkins for the Education Ministry said most of the children enrolled in the schools were from high-priority backgrounds and many had previous problems with achievement and attendance.

“All schools/kura report that high proportions of their students have poor achievement histories and are achieving below the age/stage-related standards that could be expected on entry to the school/kura,” it said.

It said the schools showed mostly good and in some cases innovative practice in their approaches to working with the children.

It also said their assessment practices were good.

“We are confident that all of the schools/kura are either already delivering, or are on a path towards delivering, assessment practice that is ‘good’ or ‘very good’ overall.”

The report said literacy and numeracy dominated the curriculum of all of the schools and most had average or lower than average class sizes.

It said in 2015 most of the schools met or exceeded their contracted targets for student attendance, engagement and achievement.

The evaluation said most of the schools said their reporting requirements were burdensome, and some said they had unresolved contract issues and/or a complex relationship with their key partner, the Education Ministry.

“These issues have at times diverted attention and resources away from delivery,” it said.

This adds to the debate over partnership schools, especially within the Labour Party.

Also at RNZ: Charter school opens for business

A new charter kura says some of its students have come to its classes because they were close to being kicked out of their old schools.

Te Kura Māori o Waatea in Auckland officially opened for business today.

The school is operated by the Manukau Urban Maori Authority, while its head is the broadcaster and former politician Willie Jackson.

“You know, sometimes we’ve got to be bigger than our parties, and it’s not about Labour, sometimes, and it’s not about national, and it’s not about ACT.

“As you said, David, it’s about our kids: the kaupapa is the main thing here.

“You either get involved or you get out”.

The kura’s tūmuaki, Tania Rangiheuea, said some of her pupils had been in trouble with other teachers in the past.

“A lot of our children have come here because they were on the verge of getting kicked out of their school.

“Some of them have behavioural problems – not all of them – most of them are really, really good kids and I love them.

It is her first time leading a school; previously she has been a lecturer at Victoria University.

She said the kura’s philosophical approach to education involves the whole lives of students and whānau – not just the time pupils spent in the classroom.

Tania Rangiheuea said her people were good at finding out what makes the tamariki tick.

“I have a full time Whānau Ora navigator attached to the kura; she goes in and works with the families.

“For example, I had two children from one household who for two days didn’t come to school, and when I found out when they didn’t come to school they had no lunch.”

Labour to ‘rename’ Partnership Schools?

It sounds like Labour, or at least some of the Maori caucus and/or candidates, are planning on renaming Partnership Schools (sometimes referred to as charter schools).

There appears to be either some deft repositioning going on, or there’s a battle within Labour.

Labour, via education spokesperson Chris Hipkins, have always campaigned strongly against Partnership Schools.

Several weeks ago at Newsroom: Charter schools wait on their fate

When partnership schools were first set up some of them struggled to reach the guaranteed minimum rolls for which they were funded. Now with several hundred students on what’s known as ‘charter school’ rolls, school managers are holding their breath until the election and hoping a Labour-Green government wouldn’t have the heart to follow through with shutting them down.

Alwyn Poole, trust board member and academic advisor, said South Auckland Middle School was full at 180 students, “with 80 on a waitlist but no policy means or incentive for expansion,” while Middle School West Auckland was at 205 “and growing fast towards its maximum of 240 in its third year, after a difficult first year.”

Poole argued that, with the partnership schools now part of the educational landscape, opposition politicians needed to stop using them as the latest ‘dog-whistle’ issue.

He gave the example of Labour Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins addressing a public meeting in Palmerston North: “We have got a good relationship with Chris and he has seen the school and he appreciates it – but he says ‘we’ll abolish charter schools’ and everybody in the audience starts clapping. Well, Palmerston North doesn’t have a charter school, they probably don’t know what one looks like, they don’t know the kids that we are working with – it just becomes this way of saying something,” Poole said.

But much as Poole likes to think it is just dog-whistle rhetoric, Labour and the Greens remain determined the schools will go if they win the election.

The two parties are united in their position on shutting down the schools. New Zealand First is also opposed to partnership schools; its policy is to “end public funding for these privately-owned profit making opportunities.”

Hipkins’ response to Newsroom was simple: “Labour’s position on charter schools hasn’t changed. They won’t continue under Labour.”

But one thing in particular has changed with Labour. Andrew recruited Willie Jackson as a candidate, Jackson has been appointed as Maori campaign manager – and Jackson supports partnership schools.

In June last year: Willie Jackson: ‘I truly believe in the partnership school model’

The opposition’s stance on partnership schools won’t get a pass mark from me.  And as far as Maori are concerned, Labour’s Education spokesman Chris Hipkins’ Private Members Bill to scrap partnership schools rates an E.

I truly believe in the partnership school model.  I believe in it so much we have one at Nga Whare Waatea. The  kura comes under the Manukau Urban Maori Authority of which I am chief executive.

That’s why I have to put these questions to Hipkins: Why would you want to carry on funding a model which continues to marginalise those tamariki – admittedly mostly Maori – who don’t fit in? Why would you not want an alternative that can support and help our children fulfil their own dreams and aspirations?

Hipkins jumps on the bandwagon about them being a costly experiment that has distracted attention and diverted resources away from the vast majority of Kiwi kids attending public schools.

He describes the charter school model as a cosy “cup of tea” deal between National and ACT and that they’re based on ideology rather than what is best for kids’ education.

To me it appears that Labour’s need to appease the unions is at the expense of children’s education.  John Tamihere, who is the chief executive for the Waipareira Trust and a former Labour Party minister, and I have supported the charter school concept for a number of years now.

We will try anything that will help turn around the negative statistics in terms of Maori students failing in mainstream schools. That doesn’t mean we are anti-mainstream schools or in fact anti-Labour – it means we are pro-Maori and pro our people.

It is Hipkins’ right to put this through as a Private Members Bill but I would suggest that not even his own party colleagues are happy with his stance and when push comes to shove, they might not vote for it to happen. Let’s hope not.

That was before Jackson joined Labour – he is now placed at 21 on their list and judged a reasonable chance of making it into Parliament if Labour get their act together. Partnership schools is one thing they need to sort out.

Yesterday Jackson was asked about this clash on Q&A, along with another candidate, Kiri Allan, whi is placed a couple of spots above Jackson on Labour’s list.

CORIN But there are tensions, aren’t there? Because, Willie, you’ve been a strong advocate of charter schools. You’ve been involved with some. You’ve talked about how they are good for Maori children, yet you’re in a Labour party which will abolish them.

WILLIE I’ve already talked with the leadership about that. I’m into any sort of school that will change what’s happening with our kids. You can call it schools, whatever you like, and Labour—
CORIN Chris Hipkins will get—

WILLIE Well, Chris and I have talked about this, and he understands where we’re coming from. Our school has qualified teachers—

CORIN But can you change his mind?

WILLIE No, no, Chris is of the same mind as me. We want schools that will turn our lives around.

CORIN So you’re saying Hipkins is okay with a partnership school?

WILLIE No, no, you call it whatever you like, Corin, but if you will bring in a school that will change kids’ lives, that can— You know, we’re dealing with families who half the kids have parents are prisoners, for goodness’ sake. We’re not in for a profit. We’ve got qualified teachers.

CORIN I’m not questioning the results at the school. I’m just saying I’m curious as to Labour policy, because Labour policy is to not have partnership schools.

WILLIE No, no, but Labour—

CORIN How would your school fit under that if you get rid of them?

WILLIE No, no, they’ll get rid of the name, and they’ll get rid of the concept, but the principle of turning kids’ lives around is something that Chris Hipkins believes in and all of Labour believes in. So call the school whatever you like.

So they’ll get rid of the name and get rid of the concept, call it something else and do much the same thing?

KIRI And what you’ve got right now is a government that’s slashing its funding in education, right? So you’ve got principals that are having to make decisions about whether to fund books in schools, in libraries, or choose between support staff. So, really, again, if you’re boiling it down, it’s really— Right now, the priorities of this government in its education portfolio — and we would say across pretty much all of its social services portfolios — the matrix isn’t working right now, so whether— whatever you call them, we know our kids aren’t thriving in these schools, and that’s again— I mean, that’s why you’re seeing—

CORIN But if a charter school or partnership school works, why wouldn’t you do it?

KIRI Well, what I understand is that Chris Hipkins and our team, we’re focusing on what does work. Call it what you will. I don’t think that that’s the issue, but what we are looking at — what are the results for our kids? And right now our kids aren’t thriving.

Except that in most partnership schools it appears that their kids are doing better than they were in the standard State School system.

So “call it what you will”, and focus on what does work – partnership schools under a different name?

It’s well understood that Hipkins is close to the teacher’s unions, and has strongly promoted their opposition to partnership schools.

Labour are proudly proclaiming that the next Labour caucus will be 25% Maori, and they want to cut the Maori Party out of contention and be the sole party representing Maori (except for the Green Maori caucus, but that’s a different conflict).

Three months ago (February 7 2017) NZH: Labour leader Andrew Little confronts caucus over Willie Jackson ructions

Little said Jackson will be expected to abide by Labour’s policy on issues such as charter schools, despite his criticism of Labour on the issue in the recent past.

Hipkins today refused to endorse Jackson, saying it was not his role to voice support or dissent about any Labour candidate.

However, he said Labour would not change its policy to abolish charter schools.

This contrasts with the Jackson and Allan opinions on partnership schools. Unless Labour are just going to abolish the name and the concept but otherwise leave them intact. Or something.

This is something Andrew Little may need to show some leadership on – and some clarity on it. Otherwise it could easily become an embarrassing and/or divisive issue for Labour, and they don’t need any more of those.


The Nation today

Coming up on are charter schools making the grade? Or is the process of becoming one too hard?

Are charter schools an “unworkable mirage”? ‘s John Tamihere thinks so…

And we meet to discuss the film she hopes will shame the Australian government at 930

Plus our panel and Don Brash

An interview with John Tamihere on charter schools (aka partnership schools).

“Far too regulatory and the funding model is far too difficult. It’s very tough”.

He says the charter school funding model is too tough and he wanted the Treaty recognised in the contract.

Tamihere likes the idea of charter schools but says it can’t work under the current structure.

Tamihere says they’re not the same as any other charter school and you can’t have one model for everyone.

Tamihere blames bureaucrats rather than ACT MP David Seymour.

“There’s a lot of people who are unhappy with the regulatory approach.”

will go back to the drawing board for the school… Tamihere says they need a game changer in West Auckland

“The lion becomes a lamb” in Parliament – is John Tamihere talking about David Seymour or himself?

Seymour declined to debate with Tamihere but The Nation plays a prior interview with him.

He dismisses Tamihere’s complaint “very easily” saying that Tamihere went to the media when he was supposed to be discussion in good faith.

“He actually introduced new conditions such as the Waitangi Tribunal ruling would apply to the contract” but Seymour said that wouldn’t be re-litigated.

Can the charter schools project afford to lose applicants of Waipareira’s calibre? Yes, we can says Seymour

There’s quite a bit more in the interview. Seymour stood his ground calmly and strongly in the face of Lisa Owen’s questions.

Charter Schools mistake

A wee mistake in a media statement by David Seymour was picked up by the Greens without realising that it was a mistake.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education
18 July 2016 2:24 pm Media Statement
Seymour announces fourth Partnership Schools application round

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour has announced a fourth round of applications to establish Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua (Partnership Schools). The fourth round will open in August, with successful Partnership Schools opening in 2018.

“The continuing growth of this policy reflects the achievement of the eight existing Partnership Schools, and the strong levels of interest educators and community leaders are showing in the Partnership Schools model and what it offers students and their families,” Mr Seymour says.

“In the latest application round we received 26 applications, which easily exceeded the available funding. I expect a high number of applications in round four as well.”

All innovative proposals are welcome. However, preference will be given to proposals that:

• make effective use of the model’s flexibilities

• offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds

• are large enough to be comfortably viable

• target students who are not well served by the education system

• bring together effective education, community or business partnerships

• have a focus on science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM)

• are not existing private schools seeking to convert to a Partnership School

Greens were quick to react, as they often are:

Monday, 18 July 2016, 4:08 pm
Press Release: Green Party

‘Charter schools for babies’ a bad deal for Kiwi kids

The Government’s plan to expand its charter-school experiment into Early Childhood Education will put children’s learning development at risk from an even earlier age, the Green Party said today.

The fourth round of applications to establish more charter schools was announced today by ACT MP David Seymour, and will prioritise funding for organisations that cater to children from the ages of 0-8 years.

“Early childhood education is critical to a child being ready for school and it is reckless for the Government to put that at risk for the sake of an ideological experiment,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“Targeting toddlers and babies for educational experimentation seems extreme, even for the ACT Party.

“Having Government-funded charter schools for toddlers and babies is another business opportunity for a few, but won’t help improve the quality of early childhood education across the board.

“Funding for education is great, but it needs to be backed up with accountability and oversight. Unfortunately, existing charter schools have shown that they are unable to provide this.

“Complaints about cultural awareness for Māori students, having far fewer students than contracted for, rewarding students with KFC, and student safety concerns are just some of the issues with current charter schools.

“It is disturbing to see that the Government is prepared to sell out more kids in order to secure the support of the sole Act MP, David Seymour.

“The state school system ends up having to pick up the pieces when these experiments go wrong, and it is children’s education that suffers.

“A greater investment needs to go into public schools that need it, not these experimental, and unproven charter schools,” said Ms Delahunty.

But the mistake was spotted once this went out.

Correction [5pm]: An error in a press release from David Seymour indicated that the Government’s charter school programme would be expanded into education for 0-8 year olds. This is not the case. Please disregard the below media release.

I believe that “offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds” should have referred to years 0-8. Even year 0 is a bit odd.

However toddlers and babies have been targeted for educational experimentation for years now with major changes to early childhood education.

ACT: Labour or PPTA “wholly owned subsidiary”

In their latest Free Press newsletter the ACT Party refers to links between the Labour Party and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association:

Not Labour
Labour have asked more parliamentary questions about Partnership Schools than any other education topic this year.  Despite the fact that Partnership Schools are getting exceptional results for disadvantaged children.  Savage and Fraser were giants who built Labour to give the disadvantaged a fair go.

Today’s Labour are more interested in their PPTA supporters.

Wholly Owned Subsidiary
Last Wednesday Labour’s education spokesperson asked a question on Partnership Schools.  After the primary question, which is published before question time, questioners try to surprise the Minister with supplementary questions.

Labour’s whole line of questioning was revealed in a PPTA press release that came out minutes after he asked his questions.

Here’s the questions in Parliament, Labour’s Education spokesperson to Minister of Education Hekia Parata:

9. Partnership Schools—Contract Funding

[Sitting date: 01 July 2015. Volume:706;Page:15. Text is subject to correction.]

9. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education : Does she stand by her statement “I am satisfied that all the contract funding to partnership schools will be spent on meeting the contracted outcome for each school, which is to deliver educational achievement”?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Yes, I do stand by my full statement, which I gave in this House in February last year: “I am satisfied that all the contract funding to partnership schools will be spent on meeting the contracted outcome for each school, which is to deliver educational achievement. In exchange … partnership schools get greater flexibility to raise student achievement, are subject to a higher degree of scrutiny … and have greater accountabilities than schools in the mainstream system.”

Chris Hipkins : How can she claim that the funds being given to partnership schools are being used for education, when He Puna Marama Trust received $3.9 million in Government funding to the end of last year, yet its audited accounts show it spent only $1.4 million on education, leaving $2.5 million unaccounted for?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I think that the member is quoting selectively from the accounts. The first distinction to make is that He Puna Marama Trust is a trust that is the sponsor of Te Rerenga Parāoa Whangariki Te Rerenga Parāoa, and that is only one of the entities that it is responsible for. It also is responsible for 5 to 6 early childhood centres. It also runs an academy, and it is responsible for delivering outcomes, and I am happy to read to the member the 100 percent of National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 1 achievement that that school delivered. I will need to find the specific—something like 93 percent for National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2, which is what it is contracted to deliver. [Interruption] To educational achievement—at nearly 100 percent on all three.

Chris Hipkins : Does she think it is a good use of taxpayers’ money to provide He Puna Marama Trust with a grant of $1.8 million to set up a school, given it leased a premises that the accounts show is costing it only $68,000 a year?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I am very happy to answer that question, because the member has failed to grasp, for some considerable amount of time, that partnership schools are set up on a different funding basis. It is cashed up, based on the inputs—[Interruption] Good, are we all following along here? Yes. So it is based on the inputs that we fund—schools—and is benchmarked against decile 3. But I can see that the Opposition actually does not want the intrusion of facts on its shouting. That is what happens with partnership schools. We take the formula provided for mainstream schools. We benchmark against decile 3. We cash it up. We provide it with a contract. That contract is specific and public, and then we report the outcomes, and perhaps the Opposition would like to shout with glee for the number of kids who have gotten great educational qualifications that otherwise they might not have gotten.

Chris Hipkins : If the partnership schools are indeed “cashed up”, as the Minister explains, where has the extra $2.5 million that He Puna Marama Trust was given to run a partnership school gone?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : A number of the partnership schools have been leasing properties while they prepare to build. That is the case in the particular school whose accounts the member is selectively quoting.

Chris Hipkins : How is it fair that charter schools are being allowed to make multimillion-dollar surpluses, or have multimillion-dollar amounts unaccounted for, while just down the road students and teachers are having to put up with classrooms that are increasingly covered in black mould, and other schools throughout New Zealand where parents are being asked to subsidise their kids’ education that the law says is supposed to be free?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : It is quite inaccurate for the member to suggest that there are funds that are unaccounted for. They are accounted for, but the member just does not like the way they are using their funds. They have a long-term contract. They have cashed up inputs based on the same benchmarking. They have all made different choices that this House has heard about before. Vanguard, for instance, has put over 50 percent of its funding into the employment of staff. Other schools have made choices about lease versus purchase properties. In the end, our interest is to ensure the well-being of the students and the education quality the schools are delivering. That is what the annual reporting represents.

Chris Hipkins : How many months has it been since she gave the Whangaruru charter school 1 month’s notice, and given the Prime Minister’s statement that if charter schools failed, the Government would be quick to close them down, why is that school still operating?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : Because of both the operation of natural justice and its contract. I gave it a month’s notice, during which time I commissioned a review by Deloitte and the Education Review Office—

Chris Hipkins : In January.

Hon HEKIA PARATA : No, I gave them that in March.

Grant Robertson : More than a month ago.

Hon HEKIA PARATA : Yes, if you will just follow along with me, I will explain the process. So then I commissioned a report by Deloitte and by the Education Review Office, which I have received. Now I am in a process with that school, working through it.

And here is the PPTA press release:

Massive surplus for cash cow charter

1 July 2015

A Whangarei charter school has banked an operating surplus of more than $2.4million, thanks to funding well above the amount regular schools receive.

Audited financial accounts released to the charities commission show the He Puna Marama trust, which opened a charter school last year received $3,897,323 in government funding to the end of 2014.

Just $1,464,093 of this has been spent on setting up and running the school, which last year was funded for 50 students and six teachers.

PPTA president Angela Roberts was disturbed to see such a surplus when there didn’t seem to be a spare penny to spend on other schools in the area as their buildings rotted around them.

“It must be wearying for the rest of the Whangarei community to see all this surplus when other local schools are falling down,” she said.

While the trust was given $1.8 million as an establishment payment towards the end of 2013 to begin operations, only $123,000 of this was spent. In 2014 the trust received $2 million for property, staffing and operations, and just $1,355,782 was spent.

The salaries for six teaching staff came to $622,740, contributing to a drain of teachers from surrounding schools.

“I am aware state schools are losing valuable staff – they can’t possibly compete with that type of money,” Roberts said.

This is the same charter school that came under fire earlier this year for the purchase of a $100,000 waka. At the time the school leadership hit back at critics saying that other schools simply ‘need better accountants’ if they cannot afford to buy such things.

The audited annual accounts of He Puna Marama are available from the Charities Commission register

There does seem to be some similarities.

Of course Labour and the PPTA can share information and campaigns as much as they like, but it does give an indication why Parata, National and ACT have difficulty dealing with the PPTA on things like Partnership/Charter Schools.

Teacher unions politically threaten charter organisations

Remarkable action from teacher groups actively opposing charter schools by making political threats.

Teacher unions trying to head-off charter schools

Teacher unions have written to aspiring charter school operators in a last-ditch attempt to warn them off setting up the schools.

Radio New Zealand’s education correspondent said the letters are the first time the Post Primary Teachers Association and the Educational Institute have directly lobbied groups wanting to set up the schools, which the government is calling partnership schools.

The letters say the schools could be cancelled as early as November next year with no compensation because opposition parties have vowed to abolish them.

They are being sent to 35 organisations that expressed interest in the schools, four of which are known to have made it to negotiations with the Government.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said charter schools will damage nearby state schools.

Directly promoting party politics with threats – regardless of the pros and cons of charter schools I think this is disgraceful behaviour from the teacher unions.

Hipkins pisses on anti Charter Schools ally

Following Peter Dunne’s anouncement that United Future won’t back Act’s Charter Schools legislation Labour’s Chris Hipkins demonstrates why Labour have trouble building relationships with other parties:

Reason trumps charter schools rhetoric

Education Spokesperson

If perennial fence-sitter Peter Dunne has pulled support for charter schools there can be no argument that this is bad policy, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Mr Dunne’s announcement this morning that he will vote against legislation to establish Charter Schools is welcome. I am urging the Maori Party to re-think their position too.

“Peter Dunne is quite right when he argues we don’t need charter schools, that we already have a range of schooling options within existing legislation, and that the risks associated with charter schools are too great.

“New Zealand already has a world leading curriculum. Labour has always said that the risks of introducing charter schools far outweigh any perceived benefits. It is great to see Mr Dunne has come round to our way of thinking.”

That sort of pissiness and arrogance – an factual inaccuracy – will really do well building political bridges, policy support and coalitions, not.

Labour have been pissy with United Future (and other parties) on a number of bills over the last year.

A number of Labour MPs, like Hipkins here, are guilty of pissy and petty political pointscoring. With this sort of behaviour prevalent it’s no wonder there are so many internal problems within Labour.

In contrast yesterday both Grant Robertson and Louisa Wall gracefully acknowledged Peter Dunne’s support for the “Mondayisation” Bill and the Marriage Amendment Bill, so some of their MPs understand interparty relations.

But there is an embedded nastiness in parts of Labour that ultimately piss on the party’s own aspirations.

Hipkins could learn something off an MP from another party they have an uneasy relationship with:

Metiria Turei@metiria

@PeterDunneMP pleased about this and your stance on Charter schools too