20 May 2016

Māori Party opposes bill to abolish charter schools

3:48 pm on 20 May 2016

The Māori Party plans to oppose the Labour Party's bill seeking to abolish Kura Hourua or charter schools.

University or secondary school students study in a classroom.

Ms Fox said the Kura Hourua were delivering strong NCEA results. Photo: 123RF

Labour Party education spokesperson Chris Hipkins' private member's bill will come before Parliament this year.

Mr Hipkins said charter schools have been a costly experiment and despite receiving up to five times the funding public schools got they had not worked - with one in Whangaruru closing this year.

However, Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said they have proved successful and the party wanted to see the creation of more charter schools.

Ms Fox said the Kura Hourua were delivering strong NCEA results which were above mainstream schools students' achievements.

"There are 470 Māori students in these schools who are achieving and having good educational success.

"There is an independent evaluation of kura hourua by Martin Jenkins that shows the approach is actually working."

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

But the Mr Hipkins said in February about $60,000 worth of bonuses were paid last year to three charter schools, even though they failed to meet their performance objectives.

Chris Hipkins.

Labour Party education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. Photo: Supplied

Mr Hipkins said the Education Ministry was told there were compliance issues at Vanguard Military School, Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa and South Auckland Middle School, but paid the bonuses anyway.

The National government more interested in throwing money at charter school experiments than properly funding New Zealand's public schools, he said.

Ms Fox said while the three schools may not be compliant over different issues, their success with NCEA results showed they worked.

She said the Māori Party agreed with whānau, iwi and Māori leaders that the government should expand the initiative and allow more Māori students to succeed by creating more charter schools.

Conventional schooling has not fared well for Māori students' success and non-conventional models such as kura kaupapa Māori and kura hourua met their aspirations in a different and more effective way, Ms Fox said.

A non-conventional example of that was at Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa which was based on the 28th Māori Battalion's principles.

"When we have been doing the same thing for a long time we need to try different approaches," Ms Fox said.

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