Two new charter schools have been approved for Māori students in Rotorua and Taupo, to the dismay of teacher unions.

The Rotorua school, Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology, will combine a science and technology focus with a Kaupapa Māori philosophy for 200 children in school years 1 to 10. It will be run by Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust of the local Ngati Whakaue iwi.

The Taupo school, Blue Light Senior Boys’ High School, will be a boarding school for 90 years 11-13 boys. It will be run by Blue Light Ventures, which runs youth activities out of police stations. Albany Junior High School principal Mike Jackson will be the founding principal of the new school.

PPTA regional chair, Alex Le Long says teachers are disappointed to hear the new schools have been approved.

“Opening charter schools is not going to raise the achievement of our children. It’s not going to close any gaps. It’s not going to level any playing fields. The only thing charter schools do successfully is reward mediocrity by using scarce education money to prop up private owners,” says Le Long.

“The evidence shows that innovative education happens best when we work together, and that’s already happening right across Rotorua, Taupo and beyond. The last thing we need is a corporate model of education being imposed on us by an out-of-touch under-secretary in Wellington.”

Laures Park, NZEI Te Riu Roa Matua Takawaenga, said it was cynical to couch charter schools as some sort of educational solution for Māori.

“I have no doubt that the people in the organisations behind these charter schools have nothing but the best intentions for the welfare and future of their tamariki,” she said. “But the fact is, more than 85 percent of Māori tamariki go to mainstream public schools. It’s a cop-out for the Government to present charter schools as a solution for Māori, while failing to adequately resource the schools that the vast majority of Māori attend.”

The two new schools will be the 11th and 12th partnership schools in New Zealand. There were 13 applications in the current funding round, with the fifth funding round already under way.


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