When Hekia Parata became aware that the Whangaruru charter school was experiencing major problems her first action was to drop standards by reducing the number of qualified teachers they had to employ, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins has revealed.
“Hekia Parata received advice last September that Whangaruru was in trouble and the Education Review Office had extended the timeframe for completing its readiness report. At the same time, she agreed to vary their contract by allowing them to employ fewer teachers and even more untrained staff.
“The ERO’s finding that the school was unable to provide adequate support for the untrained teachers they already had clearly highlights just how terrible that decision was.
“Confronted with a failing charter school, Hekia Parata’s first instinct was to lower the standards they had to meet and try to cover up the problems. That makes a mockery of her earlier claims that charter schools would be held to higher standards and be more accountable than state schools.
“The fact that Whangaruru was unable to attract appropriately qualified staff was no justification for lowering the bar. At the very time the Education Minister should have been stepping in to deal with the problems, she was doing the opposite and making them worse.
“How many more poor decisions will Hekia Parata be allowed to make before the Prime Minister steps in and does something? Time after time her judgment has been wrong and yet she continues to hold one of the most important roles in government,” Chris Hipkins says.