Tomorrow’s Schools review terms of reference

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has announced the terms of reference for the review into Tomorrow’s Schools:

The terms of reference for a review of Tomorrow’s Schools released today sets the framework for a once in 30-year opportunity to shape the way our schools are led, managed and interact with their communities, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“There’s been a lot of tinkering around the edges since Tomorrrow’s Schools was introduced, which has moved the governance, management and administration of schools further and further away from what it aimed to achieve. 

“This broad-based review gives schools, students and communities the opportunity to take part in drawing the blueprint for how schools should be organised from here on.

“It will look at how we can better support equity and inclusion for all children throughout their schooling, what changes are needed to support their educational success, and at the fitness of our school system to equip all our students for a rapidly changing world.

“The review will consider how schools might interact differently with their communities, with other schools, with employers, and with other government organisations, to serve the best interests of our young people.”       

An independent five-to-seven person taskforce will be appointed in April, which will consult widely before reporting back in November this year.

“The review is part of the Government’s championing of a high quality public education system,” Mr Hipkins said.

“We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to be the best they can be, regardless of where they live, or their personal circumstances. And we want to ensure our schools deliver that opportunity for all New Zealanders.

 “A key priority is for our schooling system will be to be more responsive to the needs of Māori and Pasifika children and those children needing learning support for whom the education system has not delivered in the past,” Mr Hipkins said.

The review will also consider the roles of the Ministry of Education, Education Review Office, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, New Zealand School Trustees Association, and the Education Council in supporting schools.

The review of Tomorrow’s Schools is part of the Government’s education work programme, announced in February. The terms of reference for the review are available at

Government filibustering in Parliament

Accusations have been made (again) that the Government parties have been wasting time in Parliament, speaking on a bill that all parties supported. Labour denied that they were filibustering.

The Hansard transcript of the Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill — In Committee shows that the following MPS spoke:


In Committee

Part 1 Amendments to principal Act relating to international and domestic school students

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National): Thank you, Madam Chair. Look, obviously, this is a bill that has been developed by the previous National Government and much of it we support—in particular, a number of measures designed to strengthen the ability of the agencies responsible for maintaining the integrity of the system…

JAN TINETTI (Labour):  I’m delighted to have the opportunity here to talk to Part 1 of the Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. Part 1 deals with clauses 4A and 5 through to 8, and I’m particularly interested in talking to this part. I’ve got a few points that I want to make, and I do have a few questions that I would like to ask the Minister…

DENISE LEE (National—Maungakiekie): Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the chance to take this call and speak to this particular bill. I’m going to speak and briefly touch on three matters here…

ERICA STANFORD (National—East Coast Bays): Thank you, Madam Chair. On the whole, this is a good piece of legislation introduced by the National Government…

MARJA LUBECK (Labour): It gives me great pleasure to speak to the Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. I took an earlier call, I think it was the second reading, talking about how this bill strengthens the education system, brings in more accountability, and also provides additional student protection.

Now, I had some notes prepared on Part 2 of the bill. Are we able to speak to Part 2 or is it just on Part 1?

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): No, we’re on Part 1 at the moment. We will come to Part 2, so there’s plenty of opportunity.

MARJA LUBECK: Right, right. OK. In that case, I’ll see if someone else wants to seek the call on Part 1.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I’m very happy to answer some of the questions that have been raised on Part 1 of the bill so far. So the question that was raised by Jan Tinetti—…

Hon CLARE CURRAN (Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media): Thank you, Madam Chair. Can I take a short call on Part 1 of this bill regarding the schools’ management of international student misconduct. Can I thank the Minister in the chair for the clarification around the contract of enrolment and misconduct. My question to the Minister in the chair goes alongside that…

Hon DAMIEN OCONNOR (Minister of Agriculture): Thank you very much, Madam Chair Tolley. The point I’d like to raise, in the brief speech that I’ll give tonight, is the one I guess of equity or discrimination. We’re talking about foreign students here…

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Associate Minister of Education): Kia ora, Madam Chair Tolley. Thank you very much. Just to take a call on the Education Amendment Bill. Just to the speaker who resumed his seat—we don’t have foreign students any more. We have international students. Just so you know—”foreign” is a very old-fashioned word, associated with colonialism, and now we have international students…

JAMI-LEE ROSS (Senior Whip—National): I move, That the question be now put.

TAMATI COFFEY (Labour—Waiariki): Thank you, Madam—

Hon Louise Upston: I raise a point of order, Madam Chairperson. I’m just interested in terms of the closure motion that my colleague Jami-Lee Ross has just put forward. It seems that speakers opposite are struggling with your repeated direction around clause 1, and then to have a speaker speaking completely on the wrong bill seems to indicate that there are actually insufficient things for them to debate. And so I would seek your guidance, Madam Chair, on the decision not to accept a closure motion.

Hon Tracey Martin: Speaking to the point of order.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): I don’t need any help, thank you. It is entirely in the hands of the chair to make those decisions. I will say to the Government that it is getting repetitive, but I decided not to accept the closure motion at this stage. Tamati Coffey’s been seeking the call for quite some time, and Ministers have stood ahead of him, which means they have to get the call, so I am now giving him the call.

TAMATI COFFEY: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m happy to take a very short call on this particular bill.

Alastair Scott: Something new. Add something new and fresh.

TAMATI COFFEY: You want something new? I’ll give you something new. How about this: I think that it’s, first of all, timely that we’re talking about this. I just saw three toga-wearing students outside, and, as students all around the country are preparing for their first week of university, I think this is very appropriate that we’re debating this.

Let’s talk about Part 1, because the part that I’m interested in is the use of allowing wānanga to apply to use the protected term. This has been a debate that I’ve had in my electorate for quite some time—about the ability for wānanga to apply to be called universities, basically.

The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): I’m sorry to interrupt the member, but the member is speaking to Part 2 of the bill at the moment, and we’re still on Part 1.


The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Anne Tolley): So you could continue, if you speak to Part 1—[Interruption] I don’t need any help, thank you—or else you can sit down and allow another speaker, and seek the call for Part 2.

TAMATI COFFEY: I’ll allow another speaker.

JAMI-LEE ROSS (Senior Whip—National): I move, That the question be now put.

Motion agreed to.

Part 1 agreed to.

Part 2 Amendments to principal Act and other enactment relating to tertiary education

TAMATI COFFEY (Labour—Waiariki): Well, Madam Chairperson, thank you for that. Timing is everything, and mine was just off. But that’s OK.

Look, I wanted to stand and have the discussion about wānanga…

Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central): I’m very pleased to take a call on this committee stage of the legislation. Firstly, can I just acknowledge my colleague the Hon Paul Goldsmith, who couldn’t be here this evening. But he has tabled Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) 17, which is about amending a particular section that is in Part 2, and I will be very focused in my comments to talk to Part 2, but I’m just going to weave in a few broader themes into those clauses as well…

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Associate Minister of Education): Kia ora, Madam Chair Tolley. Thank you very much. I rise to speak on Part 2 of the Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, and I recognise the bill, because I happened to be on the hard-working select committee that discussed these items…

DENISE LEE (National—Maungakiekie): Thank you, Madam Chair Tolley—part two of my attempt to speak on Part 2. I’d like to touch on three matters…

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister for Māori Development): Thank you, Madam Chair Tolley. I’ve been waiting all night to take a call on this great bill, and I want to offer a contribution…

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Thank you, Madam Chair Tolley. I’d like to reply to a couple of the points that have been raised so far…

JAMIE STRANGE (Labour): Thank you, Madam Chair Tolley. I appreciate the opportunity…

MARAMA DAVIDSON (Green): Madam Chair Tolley, thank you very much. I wanted to pick up on a short call…

MARJA LUBECK (Labour): Thank you, Madam Chair Tolley.

Andrew Bayly: Oh, good.

MARJA LUBECK: I know, my third time—third time lucky, they say, so I’ll give it another crack…

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Associate Minister of Education): Kia ora, Madam Chair Williams. Thank you very much. I did contribute earlier, but I actually want to just raise a couple of other areas…

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Thank you, Madam Chair Williams. I just want to comment briefly on “Meetings of councils” in clause 27, which the Hon Tracey Martin just mentioned…

JO LUXTON (Labour): Thank you, Madam Chair Williams. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this bill…

Dr DUNCAN WEBB (Labour—Christchurch Central): Thank you, Madam Chair. I have a number of questions for the Minister in respect of this amendment Act…

Hon JENNY SALESA (Associate Minister of Education): Madam Chair, thank you so much for this opportunity to speak…

SIMEON BROWN (National—Pakuranga): Thank you very much, Madam Chair Williams. It’s a pleasure to take a very, very quick call on the Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill in its committee stage. I’ve got a question for the Minister: why are we here extending the debate on a bill that we all agree on? We all agree on this bill, and there are Ministers down here in the Chamber asking other Ministers minor questions like “What is the definition of the term ‘university’?” Well, I really want to know what the definition of the term “university” is. Or the other comment was “when and if we pass this bill”. Well, we are ready and we are willing to pass this bill and get on with it.

So that’s a very quick call. I don’t want to take up the committee’s time, but let’s just get on and pass this bill. Thank you.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): I’m very happy to respond to that brief contribution from Simeon Brown, asking why we are here discussing this particular bill. That’s because that’s our job. It’s what the Parliament does. We scrutinise legislation in this House, and the fact that we have the largest and laziest Opposition New Zealand has ever seen should not detract from the fact that the Parliament still has a job of scrutinising the legislation that is being put before it…

Hon TIM MACINDOE (National—Hamilton West): I move, That the question be now put.

The CHAIRPERSON (Poto Williams): Before I take another call I just want to say that I think that we haven’t been going for an hour yet. I’m still encouraged by the breadth of the debate. So I won’t be taking a closure motion at this stage.

Hon TIM MACINDOE (National—Hamilton West): I raise a point of order, Madam Chairperson. Can I just seek your explanation? Are you saying that it is the time of the debate or the quality and the relevance of the debate? Because if it’s the latter, we’ve heard nothing of any relevance whatsoever.

The CHAIRPERSON (Poto Williams): Thank you. Part 2 of this bill is actually the substantial part of the bill. So I’m prepared to listen to more debate on Part 2.

JAMIE STRANGE (Labour): Madam Chair, thank you for the opportunity to speak, which I assure the member will be a quality presentation. So the member can take notes if the member so wants to…

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): I’ll just take a very brief contribution in response to that matter…

Dr DEBORAH RUSSELL (Labour—New Lynn): The naming of tertiary institutions is a difficult matter, and it isn’t just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter when I tell you a tertiary institution must have three different names…

Hon JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki): I move, That the question be now put.

Motion agreed to.

And it went on from there…

Hipkins’ rush to change education

Chris Hipkins was critical of the last Government’s ideological approach to education policy, but he seems to be trying to  fast track his education ideology.

The incoming government rushed in one education policy:

  • Make the first year of tertiary education or training fees free from January 1, 2018.

They were under pressure to do it in time for the new university year, and there has been criticism this week of unintended consequences: ‘Grossly inequitable’ fees-free warning from universities

Universities have warned fees-free study could push some students to apply for courses they are unlikely to pass.

Tension between the sector and the Labour-led Government over the flagship scheme is revealed in letters sent to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, now released to the Heraldunder the Official Information Act.

They include a warning universities will be forced to ask for hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra funding to help meet an administrative “burden” accompanying the policy.

Hipkins has hit back – flatly rejecting any request for cash and saying the vast bulk of administration is done by the Tertiary Education Commission.

University of Auckland vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon wrote to Hipkins in December, in his capacity as chair of Universities NZ, the body that represents all eight universities, to warn of “a most unfortunate and no doubt unintended anomaly” of the fees-free policy.

And Hipkins has been criticised with his rush to scrap Partnership Schools, despite contracts being in place. It has been controversial within Labour with some Maori MPs supporting some Partnership Schools – before the election not Associate Minister of Education Kelvin threatened to resign if the schools were forced to close.

And from Stuff: Entire charter schools authorisation board to step down in protest

The entire board of trustees for New Zealand charter schools has announced it will step down, citing a lack of faith in the Government’s decision to abolish the model.

Hipkins has indicated a preference to close New Zealand’s 17 charter schools in their current form.

Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua board chair Catherine Isaac said she had advised Minister of Education Chris Hipkins the board would retire at the end of its current term on March 1.

Issac said the board’s members were committed to innovative education for “disadvantaged or marginalised children who are failing in the regular state school system” and believed the Government was not taking those children’s interests into account.

“We have made this decision because we do not wish to contribute to dismantling an initiative which we know is achieving so much for students, and for which there is great demand.”

Hipkins said Isaac told him about the board’s plans last month. He rejected claims the Government had neglected to consider students’ interests.

“We want minimum disruption for the students and are hopeful the outcomes will be positive.”

There are higher than normal risks when new systems are hurriedly implemented without time for consultation.

ODT editorial: The changing face of education

Education Minister Chris Hipkins seems determined to change the face of New Zealand education at every level, convinced he and his teacher union backers have the answers to questions yet to be asked.

Hot on the heels of his determination to rid New Zealand of the private charter schools, despite two of his Maori MP colleagues having ties to charter schools, Mr Hipkins has announced an ‘‘ambitious’’ three-year work programme for education.

Mr Hipkins says New Zealand has an education system to be proud of but as the way we work and live continues to rapidly change, so, too, do the demands on our education system.

Ministers should always be looking at changing how we do education in a rapidly changing world.

Over the next three years, it is possible to make significant progress in changing the education system to provide for all New Zealanders, he says.

The work programme includes the NCEA review, a review of Tomorrow’s Schools, developing a future-focused education workforce strategy, a continuous focus on raising achievement for Maori and Pasifika learners, an action plan for learning support, an early learning strategic plan and a comprehensive review of school property.

That’s a lot to try and do in three years.

New Zealand is not training the skilled tradespeople it needs to build Labour’s 10,000 houses a year or even plant New Zealand First’s billion trees, something it needs to do urgently.

However, the complete overhaul of the education system seems too much too soon. The review also includes a programme of change for vocational education, a full review of the Performance Based Research Fund and better support for the research aspirations of the tertiary sector.

There has been no indication from Mr Hipkins on the fate of elected boards of trustees but reports from Wellington indicate they will be disbanded under the review.

That would be a major change – and there is no sign of what might replace them.

Boards of trustees have a heavy workload but they do give parents direct representation on how their school operates. A return to central control of schools from an education authority or ministry will be a step backwards in democracy.

It is time for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Mr Hipkins to start becoming more open with their plans for education. Establishing any government task force inevitably means reaching a conclusion already formulated at the highest level.

If there is a plan, now is the time to reveal it. Rushing headlong into change just because Mr Hipkins is ideologically opposed to something a previous government implemented, is not the way to operate when it comes to education.

Hipkins obviously has an agenda, but is communicating poorly – and that may be deliberate.

Studies abound into why parts of the education system are failing. Perhaps it is time to start adopting some of the many recommendations that will already be floating around various departmental offices.

Labour has always marketed itself as a party of inclusion across race, age, gender and identity. The changes being proposed for education do not feel that way.

It will be far better for Mr Hipkins to concentrate on one significant project, allow open and uncensored feedback, see it through completely, measure its success, and move on carefully.

But Hipkins appears to be on a mission and does not seem to care for alternate views or genuine causes for concern.


Major education ‘reform’ plan to be announced today

The Government is announcing ” a complete overhaul of the education system from early childhood right through to post-secondary schooling” today. It is commonly thought that Labour works closely with and for teacher unions, so they will presumably be largely behind the proposals.

Stuff: Convincing parents it’s time for substantial education reform won’t prove easy

The Government is on the brink of its biggest test and the measure of success will be proving educational reform on a scale not seen in almost three decades isn’t just change for change’s sake.

Schools are no strangers to policy changes – as the world evolves, it’s up to principals, teachers and school communities to keep up with the sometimes frightening pace of things like technology.

But on Wednesday Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who arguably already has the worst job in politics, will lay out his plan for a complete overhaul of the education system from early childhood right through to post-secondary schooling.

Since 2002 there’s been the introduction of NCEA and National Standards, a proposal to scrap the way schools are funded through deciles, the closure of Christchurch schools and a u-turn on policy to increase class sizes.

The Tomorrow’s Schools model, which was introduced under then-Prime Minister and Education Minister David Lange in 1989 was educational reform that had never been seen before.

Under Hipkins, Tomorrow’s Schools look set to be Yesterday’s Schools when he announces a three-year work programme to review the entire system.

At least there are some benefits in teacher unions and groups being willing to work with the Government in looking for improvements in our education systems, in contrast to the last nine years where teacher groups (and Hipkins) have strenuously fought National attempts.

But it doesn’t stop there – it’s understood the review will also lead to change in the early childhood area, polytechs and school property.

While parents will welcome more state-of-the-art classrooms for their children, stomaching so much change in other areas could be a scrap the Government has underestimated.

Parents, students and teachers won’t mind something new if it’s better than what they had before but Labour is already fighting off attacks of “ideology-driven policy” when it comes to scrapping National Standards.

Hipkins has criticised the last Government over pursuing ‘ideological’ reforms, but is being criticised of the same thing (albeit different ideologies).

Complaint to Auditor General over Partnership Schools

The Opposition is keeping up the pressure on the Government, in particular on Minister of Education Chris Hipkins, over proposed legislation to scrap Partnership Schools.

National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye has sent a complaint to the Auditor General “outlining potential issues to be investigated regarding the Government’s handling of the impending potential closure of partnership schools”.

Complaint to Auditor-General regarding partnership schools

National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye has today sent a letter to the Auditor-General outlining potential issues to be investigated regarding the Government’s handling of the impending potential closure of partnership schools.

“I want to stress that I while I believe there are serious grounds for the Auditor-General to investigate, it will be up to the Auditor-General to determine if there have been any issues with the process regarding partnership schools and any potential perceived conflicts of interest,” Ms Kaye says.

“It is important that all of the evidence and paperwork is made available and transparent before any conclusions are reached.

“The first area of complaint relates to Minister Hipkins’ and the Ministry of Education’s process around the discussions with partnership schools about their futures.

“The Minister has made several unfortunate comments that indicate he has a closed mind and there is potential evidence that the schools have undue pressure being put on them to terminate their contracts.

“I believe the Minister’s and the Ministry’s process is fundamentally flawed and there is public interest in investigating it.

“The second area of complaint relates to perceived conflicts of interest, or failure of Ministers to manage or declare conflicts of interest. This is set out in the letter I have sent to the Auditor-General.

“Given the serious nature of the letter, I hope to meet with the Auditor-General in the next couple of weeks.”

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

Petty Parliament

Noted in Open Forum yesterday:


What a complete waste of taxpayers’ money by Labour members in the General Debate.
Instead of debating an issue of governance or legislative importance the tossers spent nearly all their time one after the spouting lame insulting jokes & putdowns with ludicrous speculations on who would be the next leader of the National Party.


I agree with you entirely. Far too much parliament time is wasted on cheap shots and distractions, and any Labour MP who has engaged in soapboxing about the National leadership race will lose respect in my eyes.

As an example I just watched Chris Hipkins and he spent an annoying two minutes grandstanding.

Hipkins is Leader of the House, so this is very poor from him, although to his credit he began by acknowledging Bill English:

I want to begin today by acknowledging the Rt Hon Bill English in his decision to stand down from Parliament after close to 28 years of service to this House and to the people of New Zealand. He deserves to be acknowledged. I haven’t always agreed with Bill English—in fact, I have probably disagreed with him more than I have agree with him—but I think he does deserve to be recognised for the service he has given to the people of New Zealand and for the determination that he has shown over that period of time through a number of ups and downs that he’s experienced in this House.

He then went on to shower praise on his Government, not mentioning the awkward situation of Partnership Schools that he is primarily responsible for.

Then he took shots and Nation MPs.

I do believe one of the things that was stated today by one of those contenders, Simon Bridges, when he said “I’m focused on Simon Bridges”. Everybody in the House will believe that Simon Bridges is focused on Simon Bridges. He clearly appears to be appealing to the young fogey contingent within the National Party; that’s his key demographic. A barbecue at Simon’s place has already had the desired effect: the vacancy has been created and he’s off.

It’s the same with Judith Collins. Now it will be interesting to see how Judith Collins fares. It’s a little bit like giving the wicketkeeper a bowl when you’re playing cricket. It means you’ve given up on winning the game. That would be what would happen if Judith Collins was to become the leader of the National Party. It would be like an admission of defeat and they just needed somebody to fill in the shoes.

There is, of course, Amy Adams. She is the ultimate compromise candidate: the worst of everything. She is the worst of everything: no values, no profile, and absolutely nothing that would be attractive to the voters. By the time Amy Adams is done preparing for her race, the race will be over, but she’s certainly in the running.

Then, of course, we’ve got Jonathan Coleman. I have been told on good authority that Jonathan Coleman has secured his first vote to be the leader of the National Party. It is his own, but he has at least determined that he is going to be voting for himself.

Then, of course, we’ve got Steven Joyce. He’s mulling it over. He’s just trying to figure out whether he’s got a ladder tall enough to get himself out of his $11 billion hole so that he can make a run for the top job of the National Party.

But then there is the mystery candidate out the back there: Mark Mitchell, who’s throwing his name into the ring. Mark Mitchell used to be dog handler. Now that could come in handy if he does succeed in becoming the next leader of the New Zealand National Party.

I feel like I’ve watched this movie before, as the National Party tears itself limb from limb as they decide who the next leader of their party is going to be. And it is nice to be part of a strong, cohesive, and unified Government that’s focused on delivering for New Zealanders. We have seen real results in the first three or four months that we have been in Government and we are barely getting warmed up.

This is quite ironic, given the amount of limb tearing Labour went through over their leadership for nearly nine years, and how weak and un-cohesive Labour was during much of that time.

Next up for Labour was Meka Whatiri (Associate Minister of Agriculture):

The first question, though, is what kind of track is this? Hard and fast? Soft and slow? A bit of bounce? That might let someone keen and unexpected charge through the field, like the old show pony “Craving Coleman”, bloodline out of “Naked Opportunity” and “Desperation”. He may still come out of nowhere to surprise, but he will break a leg and will then have to be put down, like the last time he ran.

Then we have “Crusher Collins” in the blue silks, who may also be guilty of interference when that two-year-old “Brylcreem Bridges” tries to pass her on the inside. Look for the illegal use of the whip.

Very silly stuff from the Minister of Customs and Associate Minister of Agriculture, Local Government and Crown/Māori Relations.

Gezza again:

True Mefro. Same. An illustration of the difference today. How have we ended up putting up with this sort of crap (from all parties at times) and paying them to waste time just playing silly buggers & spouting rubbish.

An illustration
Speech 7 – Labour – Jackson

Unbecoming of the Minister for Employment.

Speech 8 – National – Stanford

 I find it so interesting that the only thing the last three Labour MPs could speak about was the National Party leadership race. Do you know why that is? I’ll tell you why that is. That is because they are deflecting, because the issue of the day is charter schools and they don’t want to talk about it. They will do anything in their power not to talk about charter schools.

Stanford looked quite capable -and she showed the preceding Labour Ministers up.

She is a first term MP, taking over the safe East Coast Bays electorate when Murray McCully retired – she had previously worked for McCully in his electorate office, and before that has worked in export sales and producing local television shows. Too soon for her to stand for the leadership, and too soon to judge her capabilities, but she looks promising, especially in contrast to the Labour speakers before her.

The next Labour speaker, Willow-Jean Prime:

What I find interesting is that, in this general debate, I would have thought that the other side would have used this as an opportunity to do their speeches for the leadership campaign. I’m surprised, actually, that they didn’t. They are trying to find somebody who can match the very popular Jacinda Ardern, our current Prime Minister. They are trying to find somebody with youth. They are trying to find somebody who can appeal to a different generation. We’ve seen these tweets and these reports and these updates coming through.

What I challenge the other side to do is to find a leader who has as much heart as our Prime Minister has. We are a Government with heart, versus the Opposition.

Very ironic given the content of her fellow Labour MP’s speeches that did focus on the National leadership, that would hardly appeal to a different generation with heart.

Also guilty of dirty politics are several co-authors at The Standard who posted Who will be National’s next leader?

Mickysavage has built up some credibility with generally thoughtful and reasonable posts over the past year or two, but this drags him back down to trash talk level.

There are times in politics, like when another party is going through a process, that fools should not open their mouths to prove their pettiness.

It is a real shame to see Parliament’s General Debate wasted on petty, pathetic politics. It’s sadly no surprise to see The Standard stoop.

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?


Charter school clash between Labour’s education and Maori interests

As Labour’s education spokesperson last term Chris Hipkins always seemed to represent the education unions. They and he have always opposed the Partnership Schools (charter schools) championed by ACT and introduced by the National led government.  But this has clashed with Labour’s Maori constituency who like the educational alternative charter schools have given them.

Hipkins always signalled that a Labour government would scrap the charter schools, but that didn’t go down well with Labour’s Maori MPs. From 2015:

And last July:

Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

But this week (Stuff): Government moves to scrap national standards and charter schools

The Government has introduced a bill to scrap national standards and charter schools in New Zealand.

However, charter school operators wanting to be involved in education could apply to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The new legislation was introduced by Hipkins on Thursday, who said it was backed by the vast majority of the education sector.

“Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system.”

And the opposition to charter schools of Hipkins and the education unions also seems driven by ideology.

ODT editorial: Ideology-driven education changes continue

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made his intentions about the future of New Zealand’s education system very clear before the election. And he is now starting to deliver on his promises.

The changes, although well signalled, are said to have caught some of his opponents unaware.

At the top of the list is Mr Hipkins’ requirement for private charter schools to change direction, quickly.

Mr Hipkins is quick to condemn the National and Act charter schools, despite evidence non-achieving pupils were reaching levels of achievement previously unheard of. It seems wrong for Mr Hipkins to complain about ideology-driven decisions when, clearly, his dislike of the charter schools is a major reason he is demanding changes.

The preferred option for Mr Hipkins is to explore early termination of contracts by mutual agreement. Operators wanting to be involved in education can apply to the minister to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school.

Strong concerns and resistance has already been expressed by some partnership school operators – who tend to be private trusts rather than money grubbing businesses that opponents of charter schools claim.

As part of the process, applications will need to meet the relevant and so-far unspecified requirements.

It sounds like Hipkins is rushing into this.

The establishment of charter schools gave parents the right to decide how their child was to be educated. Unions criticised the amount of money used for establishing the schools, ignoring the fact it was much less than to establish a state school.

A lot of criticism has been wrong, if not deliberately misleading.

And the Opposition has waded into it: Bill English attacks Labour ministers as ‘the worst kind’

Opposition leader Bill English has lashed out at Government ministers Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson and their stances on charter schools, accusing them of being “the worst type of politician” by turning their backs on the pupils they used to serve.

Davis, who is Labour’s deputy leader, said last year that he would resign if the charter schools Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū in Northland closed down.

Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson has also shown support for charter schools. He used to run the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (Muma), which sponsors Te Kura Māori o Waatea in South Auckland and last year successfully applied to open a second charter school.

English lashed out at the ministers today, saying the decision to close the door on charter schools was “nasty and vindictive, and the victims will be the kids”.

“The people in those schools will be very disappointed to find that Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis didn’t mean a word of it. Despite the fact they went to set up the schools, now they’ve become politicians of the worst sort – turning their backs on the people they used to serve, and worst than that, shutting down the schools they founded.

“For a Government that says that children are at the heart of everything they’re doing, the Prime Minister has not been able to give one reason why it’s good for those kids to have their school closed. It’s a disgrace.”

He took a swipe at the Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day barbecue.

“This is complete contradiction to everything the Prime Minister has said. That’s why she won’t go to these schools. It’s all very fine to make a show of cooking sausages for people on Waitangi Day.

Ardern spoke fine words about a new era in government relationships with Maori at Waitangi, so the timing of Hipkins rush to close charter schools is awkward.

“I challenge her to go to the schools and cook some sausages for the kids, and tell them, ‘It’s the last one, because I’m going to close the school’.”

Hipkins has refused to visit a charter school.

One charter school operator said that a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Education next week may be pointless now that Hipkins has acted before consultation.

Davis declined interviews today and would not be drawn on his previous promise to resign if the schools closed.

In a statement, he urged the two Northland charter schools to transition into the state school system.

​”If they want to continue delivering kaupapa Māori education, they can – as a special character school.”

Davis, Jackson and Heeni will be under pressure to represent the interests of their Maori constituents – which could clash with Hipkins representing the interests of the teacher unions (I think he’s an electorate MP but his focus seems to be as a union lackey).

NCEA to be reviewed

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has announced the terms of a review of NCEA, the unit standards system that the last Labour government replaced School Certificate, University Entrance and Bursary with.

This follows the more immediate and drastic scrapping of National Standards that the National government imposed on primary and intermediate schools. It was unpopular with teacher unions and many teachers so was never going to work well.

NCEA review terms of reference announced

Overassessment of students and teacher workload will be addressed as part of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) review starting early next year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Mr Hipkins said the NCEA review is an opportunity to refine and strengthen our key national qualification for young people leaving school, and to ensure that NCEA remains relevant in the modern world.

“The Government is committed to delivering a future-focused education system that equips students with skills and knowledge to be globally competitive.

“The introduction of NCEA represented a significant modernisation of the system of secondary school assessment. However, the full potential of NCEA has yet to be fully realised. This review will build on what has been achieved with NCEA to date, and respond to emerging needs and opportunities,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Students and teachers have told us overassessment is a real issue and impacts their wellbeing and workload. This and the importance of teaching life skills in schools, such as resilience, creativity, communication and adaptability, will form part of the review.”

“The review will also look at the role of each level of NCEA, particularly the structure and relevance of NCEA Level 1 and whether all young people should attempt it.”

The Ministry of Education will run the review, starting with range of stakeholders and opening up for all New Zealanders to comment and contribute.

“I will also establish a Ministerial Advisory Group of innovative thinkers, who can challenge traditional thinking on senior secondary education and assessment, to lead the initial phase of the review with a discussion document for public consultation in April 2018.

“I am also keen to hear from young people who are currently working towards an NCEA. I have set up a youth advisory group and will be seeking their insights early on in the process, and I want other students to contribute as well during the wider public consultation phase.”

The Terms of Reference for the review and the Cabinet Paper ‘Reviewing NCEA’ are available at