Borrowing every dollar


Finance Minister Grant Robertson justified not extending the wage subsidy to cover the longer period at alert level 3 by saying: we are borrowing every single dollar that we are paying out.

Did Cabinet take that into account when it signed off the $11.7 million paid to the Green School which has raised the ire of  principals, teacher unions, the Opposition and Green Party members?

Green co-leader James Shaw has copped most of the criticism and warrants it for the hypocrisy in backing the payment when his party policy opposes private schools.

But the decision must have been signed off by Cabinet.

Labour is no doubt enjoying watching Shaw squirm. But it is just as guilty of hypocrisy for agreeing to fund this small, private school with fees of up to $43,000 a year after scrapping the partnership schools which did so much for disadvantaged pupils failed by the conventional education system.

New Zealand First has been uncharacteristically quiet about this but it is in no position to criticise when so many of the projects it has funded with taxpayers’ money would not have passed the cost-benefit test.

That was bad enough when the government books were in surplus.

It is far worse now that every dollar that is spent is borrowed, accruing interest and will have to be repaid.

Robertson reminded us of that in defending his decision to not extend the wage subsidy.

If he, and his government,  took that approach to all other spending the Green School would not have been funded and the country wouldn’t be facing such a mountain of debt.

Davis will resign if partnership schools close


Kelvin Davis, Labour’s Te Tai Tokerau MP says he will resign if the two partnership schools in the north are closed down:

 . . The MP Kelvin Davis said Māori wanted a measure of autonomy over the education of their children.

“So if they were to close they would no longer exist, that would be a bottom line for me, so the fact is they can exist as special character schools, that’s the bottom line to me.” . . .

The party’s policy on partnership schools is confusing – saying it wants to close them but would continue to support kura kaupapa and special character schools.

Whether the two in Northland would be safe under this policy is debatable but Davis’s threat is not.

It’s also yet another sign that Labour can’t sing from the same song sheet in opposition and so are still a long way from being a government-in-waiting.

Waging war on success


Why would anyone oppose schools which are proven to be successful?

. . . All four Harlem Success Academy charters serve primarily minority student populations (all are 93.5 to 97.1% black and Hispanic) and low-income households (75 to 80% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch), and yet all are ranked academically higher than about 97% of all schools in New York state based on standardized test assessments in math and reading.

What a truly amazing academic success story!

Q: With those kinds of impressive results for some of the city’s most at-risk student populations in Harlem, couldn’t that proven record of academic success be replicated in all public schools? Wouldn’t you think that these Harlem charter schools would be recognized as academic models for the rest of the city and the state?

A: In a more sane world where students and learning are the No. 1 priority, the educational establishment would be “falling all over itself” to copy the proven educational success of charter schools like the ones in Harlem profiled above. But in the insane world of New York City, the liberal mayor and liberal teacher unions are waging a war on the city’s successful charter schools like the ones operated by Success Academy Charter Schools. Preservation of the status quo and a continuation of the current failed public school model, and preserving its power, are the primary concerns of the teachers unions and their administrative enablers, which now includes the new New York mayor. . .

This sounds familiar.

New Zealand’s first partnership schools have only recently been established but unions and opposition MPs aren’t giving them a chance.

Opposition parties and unions have already damned charter schools here.

Conventional schools work well for most pupils but they don’t work well for all..

Those young people who for a myriad of reasons fail in, or are failed by, conventional schools should be given a chance to succeed in partnership schools.

Damning them before they’ve had a chance to show what they can do is playing politics with pupils most in need of something more than business as usual in conventional schools is offering.

Politics before pupils


Another partnership school, Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei, a Maori boys secondary school, opens this week.

It was expecting students to attend Whangarei Boys High, a state secondary school, for specialist subjects like art, but teachers there have vetoed the move.

The PPTA says charter schools are a political experiment which undermine the public education system and should stand or fall on their merits. . .

The school has other options but this is a shameful example of putting politics before pupils.

Spare partnership schools – Labour chair


New Zealand’s second partnership, or charter, school was opened last week:

The Rise Up Trust is a not-for-profit community organisation which provides education services for Pacific and Maori whanau. It currently provides after-school mentoring to South Auckland families.

It grew from a home school started in her garage by ’Auntie‘ Sita Selupe, a teacher on parental leave from Mangere primary school in 2006, using examples from the children’s own lives as the basis for teaching.

Pacific Island Affairs Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, spoke at the opening ceremony and commended all those involved in getting Rise Up to where it is today and looks forward to its students’ success.

“This Government is committed to raising educational achievement amongst Pacific students at all levels. Improved achievement at school will carry these young people into further education, better jobs and ultimately better lives” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

“We have already started seeing improved results in Pacific achievement in all areas but we are relentless in our pursuit to see all Pacific children succeeding in their educational achievement. Partnership Schools allow our Pacific parents a greater choice in education that better suits their children’s needs.”

The school’s programmes have been designed by teachers who have grown up and worked in South Auckland schools for many years.

The programmes are tailored to the students, their families and the wider Mangere East community where 64% of the population is Pacific.

The academy will follow the New Zealand curriculum and employ registered teachers. 

“I congratulate Rise Up Trust for their commitment to raise achievement for all our Pacific children. I look forward to our communities supporting them as we all work to see our children succeed in all things,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga. . .

Among those supporting the school is Sally Ikinofo, Labour’s electorate chair in Mangere, who is asking the party to spare partnership schools if they win the election:

. . .Rise Up is the first Pasifika charter school, offering a Christian-based education involving the whole family and teaching the national curriculum to 50 children up to Year 6. Forty-seven children have been enrolled.

Ms Ikinofo, who also chairs the school’s board, says it is a scary time for them because of Labour’s promise to repeal the partnership schools legislation.

She is lobbying Labour MPs to keep the school open, because she says it can make a difference to the education of Pasifika children.

If Labour does repeal the legislation, the Rise Up Academy and others like it should be allowed to continue as special character schools, she says.

The Opposition has been stridently opposed to partnership schools.

This plea shows that they are out of touch with their own people who understand the potential gains for children most in need of them.

First partnership schools announced


Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Minister John Banks have announced the first partnership schools:

Minister Parata says Partnership Schools offer a new, innovative and dynamic approach to engaging students in education.

“They will help young Kiwis be the best they can be by helping raise aspirations and encouraging them to succeed,” she says.

“The school sponsors were all assessed against specific criteria including the strength of their educational offering, and their ability to improve the education results of children who are being left behind by our system. 

Minister Banks says the schools offered a different approach to education and another option for parents. 

“These schools all offer something different and we are confident they can start meeting the needs of students for whom the current system is not working,” he says.

“I am looking forward to these schools welcoming their students early next year in what will be an important new development for education in New Zealand.”

The five Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua are:

  • Vanguard Military School sponsored by Advance Training Centres Limited.  It will be a co-educational senior secondary school for years 11-13, located in Albany Auckland.  The ethos and training methodology of the military will be used to achieve results that allow students to move into a broad range of further training or employment options.
  • Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa sponsored by He Puna Marama Charitable Trust.  It will be a co-educational secondary school for years 7-13 located in Whangarei.  The school intends to raise the achievement of Māori students by reconnecting them with an ethos of leadership and pride.
  • Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru sponsored by Ngā Parirau Mātauranga Trust.  It will be a co-educational secondary school for years 9-13 located in Whangaruru, Northland. The bilingual school will target Māori students and offer additional learning opportunities including farming and outdoor education.
  • The Rise UP Academy sponsored by Rise UP Trust.  Located in Mangere, South Auckland for years 1-6.  The Rise UP approach will include effective governance, excellent teachers of inquiry based learning and culturally responsive whānau engagement.


  • South Auckland Middle School sponsored by Villa Education Trust.  It will be a middle school for years 7-10 located in South Auckland.  Project-based learning will be used for each student within a structured environment, based on Christian philosophy and values.

The concept of partnership schools has been controversial.

What can’t be denied is that it is unacceptable to have 20% of pupils leave school without a qualification and unable to read, write and do maths.

The reasons for that are many and they include what happens at home before children get to school and the support, or lack of it, they get from home once they’re there.

But conventional schools simply don’t suit some pupils. Partnership schools will take a different approach which could help those who need it most.

There are no guarantees and critics of the concept might put politics before pupils in hoping they’ll fail.

For the sake of those children, and the country which will do best with improved educational outcomes, I hope the alternative system makes a positive difference.

Partner schools could help those other schools can’t



The government’s announcement on the framework for Partnership Schools has found favour with Business NZ  which says choice and flexibility are good for learners.

The inclusion of another option for quality schooling is welcome, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says all learners deserve a bright future and this requires choices and flexibility for learners and their families.

“One of the strengths of the New Zealand schooling system is the variety of different types of schools.

“Tai Wānanga, state, private and integrated schools, tertiary-high schools, service academies, and trade academies all bring different strengths and values to their learners and communities,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“Partnership schools will be a welcome addition to this suite of education options.

“The partnership school model will provide options for flexibility and innovation that some other learning options currently available are not able to provide.

“The focus has to be on meeting the needs of the learners and ensuring that their potential is realised“Business is particularly interested in improving outcomes for all students by ensuring that they are well equipped for success in work and further learning. Our hope is that increased choice and flexibility for learners will result in improved achievement for many more of our young people.”

New Zealand’s education system does very well for most pupils but it’s failing with the long tail of under-achievers who leave school with no qualifications and without the skills needed to get and hold down a job.

An alternative system provides an opportunity to help those the current system can’t.


%d bloggers like this: