27 Feb 2013

Maori Party president makes plea for charter schools

7:33 pm on 27 February 2013

A prominent Maori educator says large numbers of Maori and Pasifika groups want to set up charter or partnership schools because they are desperate to improve their children's education.

Maori Party president Pem Bird appeared before Parliament's Education and Science select committee on Wednesday as a spokesperson for Nga Kura-a-Iwi, a group of 23 Maori immersion-schools.

The committee is hearing submissions on the Education Amendment Bill that will allow publicly-funded partnership schools.

Mr Bird told MPs the legislation will free schools from rules and regulations that prevent them from doing a better job for Maori children.

Maori and Pasifika groups are desperate to improve their children's educational performance and many will want to set up partnership schools, he said.

Mr Bird told the committee to recommend no changes to legislation it is considering that will allow partnership schools.

"Maori organisations will come in in big numbers, as will Pasifika. And the reason is simple: they want to be architects of their own futures and destinies ... We've got to get with the fact that this is desperation for us."

Mr Bird said several Maori-immersion schools want to become partnership schools.

Charter schools will be more accountable, MPs told

A Government working group says publicly-funded private schools will be more accountable than state schools - even if they are not subject to the Ombudsman's and Official Information acts.

In a submission to the select committee on Wednesday, the group said the schools will have contracts covering their academic performance, disciplinary action and engagement with parents and the community.

It said the schools will be monitored quarterly, six-monthly and annually.

However, the group also said they should not be subject to the Ombudsman's and Official Information acts because they are not Crown entities.