Charter schools fail to make grade as bonus season nears

As charter schools prepare to receive another round of bonuses and the National-Act Government confirms the opening of two new schools, documents quietly released by the Ministry of Education highlight major issues around their performance, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Information we’ve received shows four of eight charter schools have been explicitly identified as being non-compliant with their contracts in some areas and seven are not meeting aspects of their performance standards.

“Many of them are down on their guaranteed roll numbers, while in one case a school that ended 2015 with a roll of just 67 had 15 stand-downs, six suspensions, one exclusion and five expulsions.

“Those are alarming numbers, yet the Ministry has signalled it won’t be telling them to pull their socks up, but will instead just lower the standards it has set.

“The output-focused contracts were a terrible idea in the first place and changing them now would be a policy retreat of embarrassingly large proportions for the Government.

“Still, it’s typical of National to fiddle with the numbers and standards to make things look better. Unfortunately that only leads to a devaluing of education for our children. 

“Charter schools received thousands of taxpayer dollars in bonuses last year and Education Minister Hekia Parata looks set to announce another cash injection shortly. Meanwhile state schools are grappling with a funding freeze and face a return to bulk funding.

“The National-ACT charter school deal has been a failure and has no place in our education system,” Chris Hipkins says.