National’s education spokesperson Nikki Kaye has criticised the Education Minister’s approach to charter schools, saying that charter schools – both existing and future – are in limbo due to uncertainty around the future of the schools.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has indicated the government will reconsider the contracts for the six new charter schools due to open next year and in 2019 as they were signed too close to the election.

“This is one of the largest school reorganisations or potential closure processes in our country’s history,” said Kaye, “It involves more than 1000 children, including a number with very complex needs.”

She pointed out that such a process has the potential for significant legal costs.

However Bill Courtney from Save Our Schools NZ says the new government is right to query the six new charter schools. He has questioned whether the schools were “publicly notified in February” as the previous government claimed, and is calling for documentation relating to these recent applications to be released.

“The appalling lack of transparency has been an unfortunate feature of the New Zealand charter school experiment from the outset.”

Meanwhile the ten existing charter schools must also wait for a verdict on their future.

Hipkins says he will work with the existing schools on a “case by case basis”. One possibility is changing these schools to special character schools, however some existing charter schools have voiced their preference to preserve their current bulk funding model.

Another possibility is closure of these schools. Hipkins says that if this were to happen, he doesn’t envisage it happening until the end of next year.

With the school year drawing to a close, charter schools are eager to know what the future holds for them as soon as possible.

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