A Murupara-based long-time educator has hit out at the Education Minister’s decisions to close partnership schools in favour of special character schools.

Pem Bird, who won the 2018 Matariki Award for contribution to education, said, in his opinion, Chris Hipkins’ actions were “profoundly disrespectful”.

“It’s condemning these children to return to a system where Māori and Pasifika underachievement is chronic, intractable and systemic.”

Pem Bird has spoken out against education minister Chris Hipkins’ decision to disestablish partnership schools.

Bird said partnership schools were making a positive difference for Māori and Pasifika students.

“They are thriving in these culturally inclusive and wairua uplifting environments,” Bird said.

“In mainstream schools where 95 per cent of Māori are concentrated, they are routinely failed. According to figures issued by this Coalition Government, on an average school day around half of all Māori and Pasifika secondary school pupils are truant.

“A key feature of kura hourua is that they enable Māori solution seekers to take charge of their own destiny at governance and teaching level, and be contractually accountable for their schools’ results.

Rotorua’s Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology will no longer be a partnership school at the end of the year but will re-open as a special character school in 2019.

The school management was happy to stay open but angry the roll had been capped at 75 students.

Roana Bennett, general manager for Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust, said capping the roll was “unfair and wrong”.

“Anyone looking at our site with its large two-storey building, park-like grounds and other facilities would see we can cater for well over 75 students.

“Furthermore, we have plenty of room to expand. Ministry officials have chosen not to take account of this.”

The Ministry of Education’s deputy secretary of sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, had previously said she understood 75 was the site capacity at the school.

She said the decision to cap the roll took into account the local schooling network and the school could, in the future, submit an application to increase its maximum roll.

“The minister has made the decision about the details of the establishment of [Te Rangihakahaka] based on a number of factors including both property capacity and the local schooling network.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has said he had appointed an Establishment Board of Trustees at the school and other new special character schools.

“They include members of each charter school’s governance board, to provide continuity and support its character.”

A Treaty of Waitangi claim by Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi has been lodged over the closure of the partnership schools.

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

All existing charter schools applied to become state or integrated schools. Seven have been approved so far.

Source: NZ Herald


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