Greens bullying the vulnerable

“Green MP Catherine Delahunty is acting as a spokesperson for the unions in her latest attack on partnership schools” said ACT leader Jamie Whyte today.

“The teachers’ unions are not concerned that five partnerships schools might fail.  The unions are scared that the partnership schools will succeed and encourage the creation of dozens more partnership schools.

“The parents of nearly a thousand mainly Maori children have welcomed the chance to attend a partnership school where the pupils are likely to succeed.

“They know that at state schools their children have almost no chance of success.  Those are the brutal facts of the latest international educational league table. 

“All the teachers at the failing schools that Ms Delahunty wants to force the partnership pupils to attend have been approved by the Education Council - and yet the pupils still fail.

“It’s true that partnership schools don’t have to report to the same bureaucrats as public schools. They are instead directly accountable to the parents who choose to send their kids there, and can pull their kids out whenever they choose.

“Around the world partnership schools are a fast growing movement because the children succeed in them.

“As part of our coalition agreement with National, ACT will insist that more pupils have the opportunity to succeed by attending partnership schools, if their parents wish. 

“If we have a Labour-Green government these children will be thrown back onto the educational scrap heap to meet the teacher union’s demand for a continuation of the present state monopoly that is serving Maori and low-income families so poorly.”

ACT Leader-Elect Jamie Whyte challenges Labour on partnership schools

“The Labour Party must stand up to its teachers' union members and back down on its promise to scrap the partnership schools programme,” Jamie Whyte, ACT Leader-Elect said today.

The PPTA, which funds Labour, has led a determined campaign to close the new schools with recent reports of the possibility of industrial action by its Whangarei members.

“Labour’s policy to close the five partnership schools, which was announced before they even opened and have had a chance to prove themselves, has nothing to do with education and everything to do with a political party being a hostage to its union funders," said Dr Whyte.

“Having attended the opening of Whangarei’s partnership school Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, I can say that I was impressed. The school has great ethic and is ambitious, not only for their own students, but for all students in mainstream education who, over time, will benefit from the innovation possible in partnership schools.

Dr Whyte urged the teachers' union representatives and the teachers who were being called upon to boycott any involvement with partnership school students to visit the school and see for themselves what it is about.

“I can understand the insecurity expressed by the PPTA, who fear they would lose members when teachers switch from state schools to partnership schools, but this is only a problem for them if they believed that a significant number of parents would choose partnership schools over state schools . They obviously can see merit in partnership schools and that is why they are afraid.

“But the PPTA is a teachers' union and so serves teachers' interests. Teachers should be motivated by what is best for the country’s children, not their own coffers. The union, aided by its mouthpieces Chris Hipkins and David Cunliffe, would cut short the bright opportunity being offered to kiwi kids. It would send these kids trudging back to the very same schools which have failed them for years.

“I have a lot of respect for the skill, dedication, and patience of teachers. Teaching is an honourable profession, which the union should not demean by threatening the education of students with industrial action.

“At the opening of Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa on Saturday morning, one speaker used the analogy of the school being a new baby that needed protection because, as with births in the wild, the wolves were gathering. I urge the teachers of Whangarei not to play the role of rules.

“Partnership schools are a reality, with five now open and making history. They are one of the most exciting innovations in our education system ever.

“Let's give partnership schools and the kids enrolled in them the opportunity to prove themselves.”

ACT Party is delighted with opening of partnership school

The ACT Party is delighted with Saturday's opening of the partnership school Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa.

Whangarei-based ACT Board member Robin Grieve, and Jamie Whyte, ACT Party leader-elect, were pleased to attend the dawn ceremony and opening of Whangarei’s first partnership school, Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa. They were very impressed with what they saw and excited for the future of the school, and for the students who will benefit from this new dawn in State funded New Zealand education.

Partnership schools, an ACT Party initiative, were introduced as a result of the party's coalition agreement with National.

“This is an historic day, students in Whangarei now have another choice when it comes to choosing the best educational option for them,” said Grieve.

“The feedback we have received from people involved in the school is that they love the flexibility of the partnership school model."

Jamie Whyte was thrilled to see first hand the result of the ACT Party’s policy.

“ACT's education policy is focused on lifting life outcomes for all by liberalising the supply of education - allowing for more innovation and variation of what is offered to parents and students, and making it easier for new schools to open and good schools to expand,” said Dr Whyte.

There are two partnership schools operating in Northland and Mr Grieve hopes that with the expansion of the scheme recently announced by the Government, we will receive many more.

“The ACT Party supports the empowerment of the individual through education and believes offering students alternative educational sources is the best way to provide this for more students," said Mr Grieve.

"A good education is the key to better life outcomes and is the answer to addressing issues of poverty, inequality, welfare dependency and crime. ACT wants all children to benefit from an education that provides them the opportunity to live out their aspirations.

"Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa is now open and is doing just that.”

Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua to open in 2014

The passing of the third and final reading of the Education Amendment Bill in Parliament this afternoon, paves the way for the first Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua to open at the start of the next school year.

Associate Education Minister John Banks says Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua will improve the life chances of students who are currently being left behind.

“Partnership Schools will have more flexibility in how they operate, allowing them to target disadvantaged students in innovative ways.  The schools will be expected to meet strict targets for improving educational outcomes,” Mr Banks says. 

“Partnership Schools will provide new opportunities for the education, community and business sectors to work together to raise achievement, and deliver much needed choice for students, parents and whānau.

“We must do more to give all students the opportunity to succeed - especially those from Māori and Pasifika backgrounds, from disadvantaged homes, or with special educational needs, all of whom are not well served by the current system.”

Mr Banks says there have been 35 applications from around the country to run Partnership Schools.

“The Partnership Schools Authorisation Board is carrying out a thorough and robust evaluation process and I am confident all Partnership Schools will be run by organisations of the highest calibre.

“I look forward to the announcement of the successful applicants in the coming weeks.  Roll on day one, term one, 2014.”  



Education Amendment Bill - Third Reading

Almost 25 years ago, Parliament passed the Education Act 1989 which put the Picot report into effect giving us Tomorrow’s Schools. 

Parliament wanted to empower educators and school communities.  It wanted to de-centralise and liberate the compulsory education sector. 

The then Labour Government said the reforms would address the inequality of achievement.

But the unions cried foul.

The unions said that only education experts, not parents, would be able to govern schools – sound familiar? 

In fact, the unions said Tomorrow’s Schools was the first step towards privatisation.

That Tomorrow’s Schools was right-wing ideology.

The same arguments that are ringing in our ears today.

The truth is the union opposition to Partnership Schools has been straight out of their old playbook.  The same lines they trot out on any attempted reform of the education sector.  

It’s tired.  It’s cynical. It’s unconvincing.  Educators deserve better. 

The unions now say our education system is world class and ‘how dare anyone change it’.

Yes it is world class for most learners - but not all.

We have a long tail of underachievement in New Zealand. 

And that failure is institutionalised and inter-generational.

It compounds the deep trauma in these families.

It is shocking that any system could take a child though their formative years and, after 13 years in the system, turn out a student who is functionally illiterate - in no way prepared for the modern world.

Partnership Schools can make a real difference to New Zealand’s most disadvantaged students. 

We want to give five out of five students the opportunity to get a world class education.

This policy is not an attack on our teachers who by and large do a fantastic job.  I acknowledge their contribution.

I also acknowledge the contribution of the 35,000 support staff in our schools, who are so frequently belittled by the Opposition.

No one is saying there is a quick fix.  Nor is anyone saying there are not a number of ways to address this institutionalised failure.  

Partnership Schools are but one option.

They are a natural progression of the philosophy of Tomorrow’s Schools in that they empower educators and school communities, and up the level of accountability.

Partnership Schools will engage with parents and provide them with meaningful input into their child’s education.

It is one of the most important things that will be measured under the contract.

Educators in Partnership Schools will have the freedom to engage teachers who don’t hold registration with the Teachers Council. 

The decision will be based on the needs of the students, as it should be -  not a one rule for every school approach.

Partnership Schools will have better Alternative Dispute Resolution systems available to them than in most schools. 

Both the Ombudsmen and the Human Rights Commission have been invited to work with the Ministry of Education on this.

Thankfully Parliament was not swayed by the Opposition’s attempts to limit the type of organisation that can be a Partnership School.

Achieving educational improvements and being accountable always mattered more than whether a Partnership School is a run by a trust, charity, business or iwi organisation.

I have good news for the House.

The 35 quality applications received demonstrate that there is significant interest from numerous diverse communities and organisations in establishing Partnership Schools.

Successful applicants will be invited to an interview so the Authorisation Board can explore their vision for the new school in more detail.

Following the conclusion of the interviews, the Board will provide advice to the Minister of Education about which applications to approve.

Partnership Schools will be established in areas that experience significant underachievement, where students are underserved by the current system. 

The first school will be opened day one, term one, 2014. 

ACT is proud to be associated with Partnership Schools.   These schools will stand or fall on their results – as it should be.

I want to thank everyone who has helped support the passage of this bill, and who believe, like ACT, that every child deserves a world class education.

Partnership Schools will help make the promise of a world class education a reality for more of our children, so they can take their place as productive citizens.

Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua: funding focuses on raising achievement

Budget 2013 will provide $19 million in contingency funding to establish the first Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua with a focus on accountability and high educational outcomes for New Zealand children.

The initiative will see a small number of schools established, with greater freedom and flexibility to innovate and engage their students in return for stronger accountability for delivering educational results, Associate Education Minister John Banks says.

The schools will have a particular focus on the Government’s priority groups of Māori, Pasifika, children from low socio-economic backgrounds, and children with special education needs.

“This is about raising educational achievement, in particular for those groups of students who have historically been under-served by the system,’’ Mr Banks says.
“We already have a number of different types of schools operating in New Zealand, such as Kura, faith-based schools, single-sex schools, and private schools.

“Partnership Schools are another option, giving parents and students more freedom to choose the type of education that best suits their learning needs.”

The Ministry of Education has received proposals from potential sponsors for Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua. The establishment of the schools is subject to the passage of the Education Amendment Bill 2012. The Bill sets out the legal framework for the schools.

This funding has been put in contingency and will be drawn down once the legislation passes and as decisions are made later in the year.

Fact File - Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua

  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are a new way of delivering public education which will bring together the education, business, and community sectors to provide new opportunities for students to achieve education success.
  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are fully-funded schools outside the state system, accountable to the Crown for raising achievement through a contract to deliver a range of specified school-level targets.
  • The most fundamental difference between Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua and state or state-integrated schools is that their relationship with the Ministry of Education will be contractual as well as regulatory.
  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua will have more freedom over how they operate, so they can innovate to better meet the needs of their students, and achieve their targets. This includes greater flexibility over curriculum, staff qualifications, employment, hours of operation, and school leadership.
  • Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua will be in areas where learners are currently underserved by existing education provision, and will be open to all students who apply for entry, regardless of background or ability.
  • They will have no tuition fees.

Achievement and other performance expectations specified in the contract, and monitored through a combination of the Education Review Office and the specially appointed Authorisation Board, will use National Standards and other recognised measures set out in a performance measurement framework.


PPTA calls for its own destruction and the destruction of the New Zealand education system

If the Government were to listen to the PPTA and the results of their clearly biased survey questions it would be the end of the PPTA and the education system in New Zealand.

The PPTA want to take ‘for profit’ organisations out of the New Zealand education system.  

This would mean the immediate closure of more than 1900 Licenced Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres and would affect more than 80,000 children.  The PPTA profits from education, so it is advocating against itself.

The PPTA wants everyone who is not fully registered with the New Zealand Teachers Council (NZTC) out of our education system.  

If the Government were to listen and therefore exclude teachers who are newly-arrived from overseas or are otherwise not fully registered with the NZTC volunteers, support staff, private tutors, and informal tuition by hard working and dedicated parents, siblings and family friends, every education institution would immediately grind to a halt and most could not continue to exist.   This too would result in an end to the PPTA.

The PPTA are against Partnership Schools because of the for-profit, teacher registration aspects of the policy, but these features are already part of the current education sector.   Removing these features from education would have a detrimental impact on the sector as we know it and students would suffer. 

The PPTA also likes to claim that the majority of submissions on the Education Amendment Bill were opposed to Partnership Schools.  But, the vast majority of the submissions received by the Education and Science Select Committee received were 'form submissions' from the PPTA, NZEI and their Union affiliates.  Excluding these left a balanced pool of properly considered submissions.

Partnership schools, known overseas as charter schools or free schools, are not an experiment.  Evidence has shown that the best models of charter/free schools have been very successful in raising achievement for students from disadvantaged areas and those with English as a second language.   They were first started 20 years ago in the United States by... you guessed it... the teachers unions.

The PPTA is clearly not much concerned about poor educational outcomes from failing public schools.  It is not plausible that it is terrified that some partnership schools might fail; it is more plausible that it is terrified that greater parental choice might improve outcomes.

The PPTA survey can be found here

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski Confused

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski seems to be confused. 

In a press release today (here), she has used the words ‘irresponsible and reckless’ to describe education where for-profit organisations can employ a percentage of fully registered teachers and are not subject to the Official Information Act (OIA).

What she has described is the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector she works in.

Around 43% of ECE centres are run by for-profits, only a percentage of teachers need to be registered and these are not Crown Entities so are not subject to the OIA.

Is she saying the for-profit ECE centres are inferior?

Does she not value the contribution of the ECE teachers who are not fully registered?

Does she want ECE centres to be subject to the OIA?

Education Amendment Bill - Second Reading

I rise to speak in favour of the second reading of the Education Amendment Bill.

The Bill provides the legal framework for Partnerships Schools | Kura Hourua.

I want to join with the Hon Hekia Parata in thanking Dr Cam Calder the Chair of the Education and Science Committee and the members of the Committee for their hard work. 

They have improved the Bill.  The first change is to require the existing independent review option to now be a mandatory term of all sponsorship contracts.

I can advise the House that officials are working on some default dispute resolution options that will be focused on the educational needs of the student.  These will be superior to arrangements in most state schools.

The second change is a partial extension of the jurisdiction of the Ombudsmen to suspensions, stand-downs, exclusions and expulsions.  This change both protects the students and ensures sponsors who are non-government organisations have their status preserved.

I want to acknowledge all those who took the time to make a submission to the Committee.  Even when we disagree, I know that our education system can only improve with the passionate engagement of learners, parents and educational professionals.

This Bill as it relates to Partnership Schools is drawn from a proposal in the ACT and National Confidence and Supply Agreement.  That proposal was given life by the Partnership Schools Working Party ably led by Catherine Isaac whose work shaped this Bill.

Partnership schools spring from the values of the ACT Party.  In education we believe in parental choice and the funding following the child whatever the school type. 

We know that in education, one size does not fit all.

In essence we believe in the transformative potential of education.

That is why we backed Aspire Scholarships last term and why we promoted Partnership Schools this term.

Every child has potential however humble their origins.

Every child has inherent value.

And every child deserves the opportunity to get a world class education.

No member in their heart-of-hearts can say that New Zealand is delivering on that.

So this Bill is important.   It will determine whether this House is on the right side of history.

I believe we will stand with young Māori and Pasifika who deserve to discover the spark of learning.

We will stand with those with learning difficulties or from low socio-economic backgrounds who yearn to achieve. 

We will stand with the dedicated educators including Māori and Pasifika educators who are able to inspire and lead and achieve for our most vulnerable learners.

We will stand with the proposition that greater freedom to educators should be coupled with higher levels of accountability. 

Partnership Schoolswill help to address the endemic problem of underachievement of our most vulnerable leaners.

The good news is that the current education system works well for the majority of our young people.  Our best students are best in the world.

There is more good news.  There have been significant recent gains for Pasifika students and slight gains for Māori.
The bad news is that still too many of our vulnerable students are being left behind.   In terms of equity, which is the size of the gap between our highest and lowest achievers, we are among the worst of OECD countries.  

The good news is that Partnership Schools are on the way.

Being a first world nation means five out of five students gaining the knowledge and skills to be successful citizens in the 21st Century. 

This country has huge potential.  However we waste that potential because of the continuing disparity that characterises our education system.

Partnership Schools will help target the problem of underachievement. 

In the Partnership School model, the Crown enters into a contract with a sponsor, who operates the school. 

Sponsors vary from school to school and could be, for example, groups of parents, not-for-profit community groups, businesses, churches, Iwi or Pasifika groups, or Trusts.

The term ‘partnership’ captures the essence of what these schools represent – a partnership between the Crown, the business sector and the community.

They will introduce more choice, and more flexibility, into our education system.

More choice for parents – who will have greater freedom to choose the education that best suits their children’s learning needs.

And more flexibility – as Partnership Schools will have greater freedom around how they operate. 

They will be given more autonomy from the usual rules and regulations under which state schools are required to operate. 

This includes the freedom to offer a different curriculum so long as it can be mapped against the New Zealand curriculum and its principles and qualifications framework, and adaptable operating hours.

They must employ teachers who are trained and qualified in their fields, but they may, in certain, limited circumstances, be teachers who are not registered with the Teachers’ Council.

This flexibility will allow them to do things differently. They will be allowed to use new and diverse approaches to teaching and learning, and property and school organisation. 

They can focus on specialist areas of learning, such as art, music or sport, and they can answer a particular need in their community, such as for faith-based schooling or holistic development.
In exchange for this flexibility, Partnership Schools will have higher levels of accountability with a unique evaluation framework. 

I’m pleased to advise the House that we have received 35 applications from potential sponsors for Partnership Schools.

They are currently being considered by the Authorisation Board, an expert panel of independent advisors.

The Authorisation Board will make recommendations to the Minister of Education.   

No final decisions will be made, or contracts with potential sponsors entered into, until this Bill is passed.  Contracts are expected to be in place by the middle of this year.

This ensures successful sponsors have enough time to prepare their schools to open in 2014.

Can I once again express my appreciation for the work of the Select Committee.   Can I also place on record my appreciation for the support of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Education and the Maori Party for Partnership Schools.

Roll on day 1 term 1 2014


Green Party Continues Their Misinformation Campaign On Partnership Schools

The Green Party continued with their campaign to deliberately mislead the public about Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua, with Metiria Turei's claim today that the policy will create an elitist education system.

It’s hard to comprehend how anyone could say this with a straight face.

Partnership Schools are specifically targeted at students from low-socio economic areas.   They cannot charge fees.   They cannot cherry pick students.   If they are over-subscribed they will hold a ballot.   

The current state school system sees many students from low-income families locked out of the best state schools simply because they can’t afford to live in the right area.   Far from being elitist, Partnership Schools will be more inclusive than current state schools.