“The Prime Minister has said in her Post Cabinet Press Conference that Partnership Schools can stay open if they operate within the same budget, use registered teachers, and teach the [New Zealand] curriculum”, says ACT Party Leader David Seymour.
“As the Former Under Secretary responsible for the policy, and someone who helped design the original legislation in another life, I am well placed to give the Prime Minister some helpful advice: They are already doing these things!”
“All Partnership Schools operate within the same budget as state schools with similar students. I should know, I was involved in designing the funding formula. In fact, I still get Partnership School sponsors complaining that they are underfunded compared with State Schools.
“Some (deliberate) confusion arose from the fact that all new schools are funded at a higher rate than older schools. This is because, in their early years, schools have fewer students to cover their fixed costs. However, this is not a feature of Partnership Schools but rather one of new State and Partnership Schools alike. One need only look at the numbers on a new State School such as the Hobsonville Point schools, or Rototuna.
“While the legislation allows Partnership Schools to teach an alternative curriculum, it must map to the principles of the New Zealand curriculum. Given the New Zealand curriculum is world leading in its flexibility, it is difficult to argue that a school teaching a curriculum that maps to the Curriculum is not teaching the Curriculum. In any event, only one school is using this feature of the policy, all other Partnership Schools are already teaching the New Zealand Curriculum or it’s Maori equivalent Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
“Cabinet agreed in 2012 that a Partnership School could employ teachers not registered with the New Zealand Teachers’ Council (now Education Council) in order so long as those students had the “skills, qualifications and experience” to assist in students’ learning.
“It would be regrettable to lose this feature of the Partnership School policy. It has allowed, for instance, a retired Air Force Engineer to teach children engineering at Vanguard Military School. I have met him, seen him teach, and he is an inspiration. Nevertheless, like the curriculum flexibility, only a couple of schools have used this feature of the school.
“As you’ll see, the Prime Minister would be a supporter of the Partnership School model and the schools themselves, with the exception of a handful of teachers, if only she knew how they worked.
“She might as well come out in support of Partnership Schools for the benefit of the kids who are enrolled. Come on Prime Minister, let’s do this.”