When announcing two new partnership schools ACT’s David Seymour blasted ‘relentless negative attacks’ on the education alternatives.
…they had also found themselves “the constant focus of relentlessly negative attacks” from other sectors of the education system who seemed to believe that the education system was funded for them, rather than for kids.
“I don’t think it is entirely fair that our Partnership school sponsors have had to be their own PR agents while also setting up schools in quite heroic and successful ways but nevertheless that is part of the reality they face.”
The Labour Party has strongly opposed partnership schools (aka charter schools), led by education spokesperson Chris Hipkins who seems to be closely associated with teacher unions.
The two new partnership schools that will open next year both aim to provide education leading to employment for Maori children. If Labour was serious about representing their Maori constituency they would recognise the potential benefits of fixing parts of our current education system that are failing many Maori kids.
From a closing address Hipkins gave to Te Ara Whakamana Pathways and Transitions Forum:
Our education system needs to prepare our young people for a world we can’t yet imagine. We might not be able to imagine ‘what’ they will be doing, but we can predict with a reasonable degree of certainly some of the attributes they’ll need if they are going to succeed.
Far from having a ‘job for life’ they can expect to chop and change careers on a regular basis. They will probably undertake a range of different types of work, some salaried, some contracted, some in a workplace, some from home.
Subject specific knowledge and technical skills will be a lot less important, transferable skills will be essential. Attitude and aptitude will be just as important, if not more important, than qualifications.
That poses enormous challenges for the education system and here, as around the world, we’re only just beginning to grapple with those.
The current focus on standardisation and measurement works against adapting the education system to the needs of the modern world. Those policies seek to refine a system that was well suited to the last century, but simply won’t cut it in the future.
Our focus has to be on a much more personalised learning experience, one that brings out the best in each and every individual. No two people are built exactly the same so we should stop forcing the education system to treat them as if they are.
One way to stop forcing the education system to provide more personalised learning experiences is through partnership schools. They provide an alternative for the many kids, by some counts a quarter, who are failing in the state system.
I want young New Zealanders to undertake courses of learning and study that leave their options as wide open as possible. Closer partnerships between schools, tertiary education providers, and industry will be vital.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean kids should be learning job-specific skills at school.
Job-specific skills are best learnt where they will be used – on the job. But a closer partnership between education and industry will result in a much greater emphasis on transferable skills, and less of an emphasis on subjects and credit accumulation.
One of the new partnership schools just announced:
- Napier – Te Aratika Academy: a single sex (male) senior secondary school for years 11 to 13. It will have a vocationally-focused kaupapa Māori special character, and will target male Māori students. Sponsored by Te Aratika Charitable Trust. An opening roll of 67, with a maximum of 200 by 2019.
Te Aratika Charitable Trust is a new charitable trust formed by Te Aratika Drilling, a civil construction firm across the North Island.
Ronnie Rochel, the director of the company, said that since 1998 she had been working and mentoring young men.
“I am passionate about providing a platform for change,” she said.
She saw many young boys come in to apply for jobs and although they had been through the school system, they were were not employment-ready.
Sounds a lot like what Hipkins suggests – except that it isn’t under the control of the teacher unions that seem to have Hipkins as their spokesperson and seem to oppose diversification of education.
Partnership schools are one way of providing more personalised education and vocational preparation. Maori groups in particular see them as a more effective alternative for kids currently failing.
Will Labour put kids and Maori educational interests first?
Or do they have too close a partnership with teachers’ unions and don’t really want diversification beyond their control?