By: Simon Collins

All 12 charter schools set up under the previous National government will now stay open as state or state-integrated schools.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has approved state-integrated status for the last two schools that were still awaiting approval, Te Kura Māori o Waatea in Māngere and Tūranga Tangata Rite in Gisborne.

However the Māngere school, set up by the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (Muma) under former chief executive Willie Jackson who is now Employment Minister in the Labour-led Government, has not yet won approval to add a secondary school to its existing Years 1 to 8 charter school at Te Whare Waatea Marae.

Current Muma chief executive Wyn Osborne said he still hoped to gain Ministry of Education approval to start adding secondary school classes in 2020.

“Our plans remain for it to be a composite school for Years 1 to 13,” he said.

“The minister has agreed to integrate us as Years 1 to 8, and then as the opportunity presents we will go back to deliver on our plans for a composite school. We have a cohort of Year 7 this year, who will be in Year 8 next year, so ideally 2020.”

The kura has grown with each age group from 37 in 2015 to 79 last year and 89 by last month, and Osborne said Hipkins had approved a maximum Years 1 to 8 roll of 175.

Last year the former Government had approved a maximum roll of 145 in Years 9 to 13, with a planned opening roll of 50.

Te Kura Māori o Waatea students Paigan Harris-Tara, Khey-Sahn Moeara-Taki and Keiana Moeara-Taki received free training shoes from ASB last December. Photo / File

The Gisborne school was approved by the former Government to open next year with 45 students, building to a maximum of 55, in Years 9 to 11.

Te Rūnanga o Tūranganui ā Kiwa, which will own the school, said in April that it would serve young people who had “disengaged” from mainstream schools but were barred from the iwi’s tertiary courses because they were below the school-leaving age.

The manager of the iwi’s tertiary education agency Tūranga Ararau, Sharon Maynard, said integration gave the iwi more autonomy than becoming a state school like most other charter schools, even though it provided slightly less funding.

“You only get 85 per cent of the property grants,” she said.

But unlike many Catholic integrated schools, the iwi will not charge fees.

“We are just going to have to manage the finances sharper and look for outside help,” Maynard said.

Hipkins said the new school would now open at the start of 2020 “once the property and site are ready”.

Tūranga Ararau quality assurance manager Jolene Takai said the planned roll numbers were unchanged and the one-year delay was inevitable.

“We are pretty strapped for time. We want to make sure that we get this right,” she said.

She said Tūranga Ararau had been working with Gisborne rangatahi (youth) for 25 years.

“We know what their needs are in terms of being disengaged in the mainstream system,” she said.

“It’s been a long journey for us. We are just happy that it’s a done deal and we can move forward.”

The other 10 charter schools have all been approved to reopen next year as state schools with “designated character”: Te Kāpehu Whetū primary and secondary schools in Whangarei; Middle School West Auckland, South Auckland Middle School, Pacific Advance Secondary School, Rise Up Academy and Vanguard Military School in Auckland; Te Kōpuku High School in Hamilton; Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology in Rotorua; and Te Aratika Academy near Hastings.

Hipkins said he was “pleased that we have been able to provide certainty and continuity for the schools’ students and their wider communities”.

“The new designated character and state integrated schools will benefit from the added protections and supports that the state system provides,” he said.

“Looking ahead, the Government is committed to investing in a state education system that delivers quality education and meets the needs of all learners.”

Source: NZ Herald

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