Partnership Schools

State Schools good, Charter schools Baaaaad

Radio New Zealand has reproduced a PPTA piece that tries to make a case that a Hawkes Bay Charter School is highly funded. They did this by lumping in establishment costs along with an over-statement of 2017 operating funding and then compared it to the long-run per student average for State Schools.

A fair comparison would be for a new Charter high school to be compared to a recent State school establishment?like?Ormiston Senior College?which started in 2011. It was meant to grow to a roll of 1600 students but by 2015 it only had 445. It had all year levels available by 2013. It cost approximately $22 million for land (one-third of the cost for three schools on site – Primary, Junior College, Senior) and $31.3 million for buildings. Add another $1.5m for establishment funding and in 2015 it is also listed as receiving $7688 per student (plus centralised services).

Using the PPTA formula that works out at $130,834 per student. Quite a bit more than even the PPTA’s nonsensical comparison for the Charter School but then funding has never been the real reason why the PPTA has been opposed to partnership schools. Their opposition has always been ideological.
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Roadblocks to expansion for Partnership schools where demand exceeds supply

A little over two years into its existence, Middle School West Auckland’s roll has already increased to 200. Capacity for 2017 is 210 and they are now working on a strategy to facilitate the full roll of 240 in 2018.

South Auckland Middle School which opened first is already full and currently, has 70 students on its waiting list. Despite the waiting list people are still enquiring?about places on a daily basis.

The challenge of funding expansion is a stumbling block for these successful and popular partnership schools. Middle School West Auckland and South Auckland Middle School both lease their buildings. In order for these two Partnership schools to expand they need funding to lease, refurbish and equip additional buildings.

The Villa Education Trust and He Puna Marama Trust say the schools’ property funding does not stretch to building or fitting out new classrooms to keep up with enrolment increases.

Both trusts own growing charter schools and the Villa Education Trust wants extra funding for growth while He Puna Marama Trust is seeking access to a government loan.


The funding model for Partnership schools has changed from what it was three years ago. David Seymour says that “The adjustments to the funding model provide Partnership Schools with greater incentives to grow, and will ensure that the schools are efficient while they are small. It will also share a greater proportion of the risks with the sponsors of Partnership Schools, and incentivise sponsors to partner with external parties for resourcing, thus enriching the linkages between school and community, and allowing more Partnership Schools to be opened for a given budget.”

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How is Act’s flagship policy doing?

After being sent the Act Press release about the fifth Partnership schools’ application round I asked David Seymour?s office a few questions about their flagship policy and they responded on behalf of David in his capacity as Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education.

More students deserve opportunities beyond those offered by the state school system. That?s why for Round 5, we welcome two types of applications. Applications can have a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) focus, or a priority learner focus.

-Act Press release

The below questions and answers are reproduced in full and unedited.


The Partnership school policy was always promoted as providing improvement for “priority learners” and there is clear evidence of the need to do this for Maori, Pasifika and low-income families. At the moment there are only 10 Charter Schools currently operating so there is clearly still a long way to go before the issue of priority learners can be adequately addressed. Given there is still a long way to go why has there been an expansion to “STEM” and why do you think there is a?need for it?


The focus on STEM is an expansion of the policy rather than a replacement of focusing on priority learners.? Priority learners continue to remain a focus of the policy.? While New Zealand has a highly respected education system, international indicators show that New Zealand students? performance in science and mathematics has room for improvement.? As with all Partnership Schools, enrolment at STEM schools will be open to all students, including priority learners.

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Three years down the track how is New Zealand’s first Charter School doing?

PHOTO-South Auckland Middle School facebook page

Three years on from when the first Charter School was opened it is now much, much harder for a Charter school to get off the ground. It is not just the continued opposition to the model from the left but the funding for the model has been reduced by the government to the point where some organisations keen to open a Charter school have been withdrawing their applications once they discover the reduced funding alongside other issues.

The Government’s charter school model has been branded “an unworkable mirage” by former MP John Tamihere, after he pulled the plug on a proposed bilingual West Auckland school.

The Te Whnau O Waipareira Trust, headed by Tamihere, was on the verge of announcing a new partnership school with the Ministry of Education, with 100 children already signed up to enrol.

The trust was ready to invest $250,000 into the kura which would have opened next year in Henderson.

-NZ Herald

I visited New Zealand’s first Charter school as part of my Charter school perception series and was very impressed with it. It is a?real?pity that the model has been changed as New Zealand needs more schools like South Auckland Middle School who have proved what can be done when the model is right.

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David Seymour calls Labours bill against Charter Schools “Ground Hog day”

Last week the Labour Party brought yet another bill to the House to try to undermine New Zealand Charter schools (Partnership Schools .) Act Party leader David Seymour called the bill ” Ground Hog day,” referring to a film of that name where a man finds himself caught in a time loop and forced to relive the same day over and over again. Poor David had to defend Partnership schools from yet another attack bill from the Labour Party who appear to be forced to do the biddings of their Union masters over and over and over again. As with previous attempts, Labour’s attack was neutralised. Act, National, United Future and the Maori Party voted against it and it was defeated 63-57.

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All Political parties should be supporting Charter Schools

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says charter schools are having a positive impact and he’s calling on all Maori MPs to vote against the bill.

“They know in their heart of hearts that actually kura hourua are delivering for our people,” he said.

Charter Schools are getting results and the students who are being helped come from families who vote for a range of political parties. If something works political?parties should put people before political point scoring like the Maori Party have.

Would the Labour Party put up a bill to abolish hospitals if they only existed because of a policy of the National?Party? Would they ignore the need for hospitals and the demand for them and agitate that they be abolished simply because it wasn’t their good idea in the first place?

Why can’t they take a leaf out of John Key’s book and instead of going against good policy ideas introduced by other parties they instead steal them and make them their own? A number of families who would otherwise vote Labour will not be doing so this election because Labour has promised to destroy the Charter schools where their children are currently doing so well.

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Face of the day

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, meet with fourth-graders at Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans, Friday, March 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, meet with fourth-graders at Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans, Friday, March 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is today’s face of the day for this gem.

Yet I absolutely reject the idea that poverty is destiny in the classroom and the self-defeating belief that schools don’t matter much in the face of poverty.

Sadly, much of the current debate in Washington, in education schools, and in the blogosphere about high-performing charter schools is driven by ideology, not by facts on the ground. Far too often, the chief beneficiaries of high-performing charter schools?low-income families and children?are forgotten amid controversies over funding and the hiring of nonunion teachers in charter schools. Too often, the parents and children who are desperately seeking better schools are an afterthought.

Successful Partnership schools have a serious challenge ahead of them *UPDATED

Partnership schools haven’t been around for very long ?but a number of them are already facing the challenge of demand exceeding supply due to their outstanding results and popularity. Yesterday I chatted on the phone to David Seymour ?about the challenge that these successful schools are facing.

One of the things we discussed reminded me of a choice I was given as a child. ?I wanted two things but was told I could only have one. ?I had to ask myself which of the two was the most valuable.

Imagine that a rich relative has given you two choices:

1.The ownership of a house valued at $500,000 for the rest of your life that is built on land belonging to your relative?that you are never allowed to sell. If your family grows and needs more space the relative will either rebuild the house to suit you or build a second house on the section.

2. A weekly income from a Trust fund equivalent to the average rent charged on a $500,000 house in the same area that will be adjusted annually to reflect inflation.

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Two new Partnership Schools to open

We received the following press release from Act this afternoon. Clearly, the Maori community sees a lot of value in Partnership schools as both new schools are targeting Maori students.Politically?the more Maori see their children getting?a better deal, the more marginalised Labour’s?”solutions” will become. In some electorates the extended families vote alone could be devastating for Labour who will run with a policy of closing the one positive thing in their family’s life.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour today announced that two new Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua will open in 2017.

?The new sponsors submitted strong applications and we look forward to seeing this reflected in the learning outcomes of their students,? says Mr Seymour.

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Hekia says Potato, Unions say Potardo

Teacher Unions love to be contrary. ?You can guarantee whatever position Education Minister Hekia Parata takes, the unions will take the opposite position. Teacher Unions’ staunch and ongoing opposition to charter schools is just one example of this kind of behaviour.

Education Minister Hekia Parata is “somewhat surprised” that teacher unions have come out in strong opposition to the Government’s proposed new funding system for schools.

The PPTA and NZEI say their 60,000 members will hold paid union meetings next month to discuss a response to the “global budget” proposal.

They say it’s a back door attempt to bring in bulk funding and larger class sizes, which has failed in the past.

Remember that these are the exact same unions who claimed charter schools were only doing well and able to have smaller class sizes because they were bulk funded. The three Partnership schools I visited managed their limited budget successfully because they all employed a financial manager as well as a Principal. ?They liked bulk funding because it gave them choice.

But the Post Primary Teachers Association said encouraging results were only because charter schools were better resourced and able to have smaller classes

Ms Parata says it isn’t bulk funding and she’s been discussing the proposal with the unions and other sector representatives since May.

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