By: Jordan Bond

Last week the Government announced two new partnership schools would open next year – one in Rotorua, run by Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust, and a smaller senior boys school in Taupo.

Rotorua’s Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Hurungaterangi principal Oriana Lemon said she was baffled her school had been turned down for more money for unfunded students by the Government.

“What is the point of setting up a brand new school, which is probably going to cost a lot more than if it was put towards our school?

“Envious is definitely the word. I am very upset that these schools are in place . . . I’m not actually very happy about it all.”

Charter schools, or partnership schools, receive government funding but are not operated by the Ministry of Education as state schools are.

The schools are operated by sponsors – not-for-profits, businesses, education providers, or, in this case, Ngati Whakaue’s education arm.

Legislation was introduced in 2011, and there are 10 charter schools operating in New Zealand, with these two to come next year.

Ms Lemon has been applying to have her school’s status changed to a composite school since 2013. It’s only funded as a primary school for students Year 1 to 8, but it had around 20 high school-aged students who were not funded by the ministry, and more on the waiting list, she said.

“The most upsetting thing for this whanau is we have been waiting since 2013 [for composite status] . . . and we just keep getting fobbed off all the time.”

She said the school had followed all the processes the ministry had asked of it, and supplied all the correct information.

“They aren’t offering us any explanation at all. We’re back to square one again. We’re no closer to getting [composite] status.”

Another principal of a Te Kura Kaupapa Maori school, who did not wish to be named, said the money being spent by the Government on the new school could be more effectively used at schools that already existed.

“We can do exactly the same as they are going to do. I’m concerned at the resourcing that’s going in there and nothing’s coming our way,” the principal said.

“We are doing it for Maori kids, and we’re doing it in Maori, and we’re not receiving the same amount of support and resourcing as the new . . . charter initiative that is being promoted.

“What’s become very evident over those 30 years is that there’s not a lot of support for an excellent schooling option for Maori children. But Government is prepared to support a charter school here in Rotorua, which competes with the three Kura Kaupapa Aho Matua.”

In a written statement to the Rotorua Daily Post, acting Minister of Education Louise Upston said the Government was committed to funding schools to provide a good public education.

“This financial year [that] amounts to over $11 billion – the highest ever investment in public education. Funding for schooling has gone up by 35 per cent since 2008-09 and operational grant funding has increased by 37.6 per cent.

“We are also committed to supporting a wide range of choice in education for young people and their families.

“The new partnership school announced for Rotorua offers an additional approach in an area of identified need.

“Partnership schools enable new collaborations between community organisations, iwi, and, in some cases, businesses to help raise children’s educational outcomes. They provide another option to engage young people who may struggle in more mainstream education.

“Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake Trust has been operating in Rotorua since 2005 and is highly credible. The new partnership school is for Years 1 to 10 and will have a particular focus on science, technology and maths.

“The school will provide further choice for young people and their families about the type of education that will work best for them.”

– Additional reporting by Stephanie Arthur-Worsop

Source: NZ Herald

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