By: Lucy Bennett

All existing charter schools have applied to become state or integrated schools, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

Two schools, Te Kura Māori o Waatea in Māngere and Tūranga Tangata Rite in Gisborne, have applied to become integrated schools similar to Catholic schools.

The other 10 have applied to become designated-character state schools, where the state will take over the properties but sponsoring bodies may be allowed some sats on the boards of trustees.

The Ministry of Education will consult on the applications and assess them before reporting back to Hipkins next month.

He said he expected to make decisions on their future by the end of July.

Hipkins has also appointed a new advisory group to monitor the schools’ performance while they remain charter schools, replacing an authorisation board led by former Act Party president Catherine Isaac which resigned en masse in February.

The new group will be led by former Ministry of Education regional manager Bruce Adin, who was immediately slammed by Act Party leader David Seymour as an “ex-union boss”. Adin was president of the primary teachers’ union, the NZ Educational Institute, in 2003.

Other members of the new advisory group are former City of Manukau Education Trust chief executive Bernadine Vester, former Deloittes chief executive Murray Jack, Ōtāhuhu Primary School principal Jason Swann, former Ministry for the Environment deputy head Te Rau Kupengaand Māori mental health veteran Moe Milne.

Seymour, whose party initiated charter schools through its coalition deal with the former National Government, said the new group showed that Hipkins “has put the teachers’ unions ahead of tamariki”.

All existing charter schools, aka partnership schools, will become state schools. Photo / NZME

National’s education spokeswoman, Nikki Kaye, said the Government’s announcement on what was in effect the schools’ only lifeline was ridiculous.

“This is a really ridiculous assertion from the minister that this is somehow a signal that they’re all on board with Government policy.”

Hipkins introduced the Education Amendment Bill, spelling the end of charter schools, in February.

“The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system,” Hipkins said at the time.

Five charter schools scheduled to open this year will no longer do so.

The existing charter schools have a combined roll of about 1300 students.

Hipkins wanted existing charter schools to wind up before the end of their contracts by mutual agreement but if early termination was not agreed by both parties he reserved the right to issue a notice of “termination for convenience”, by the middle of this month.

The final cost of removing the charter school model is unknown. Financial compensation for schools that have their contract terminated would likely cost up to $1 million in financial compensation to the schools, according to a Cabinet paper.

Source: NZ Herald

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