Teachers urge Labour to follow through with charter schools pledge

  • 22/10/2017

A major teachers' union is hoping charter schools will go, despite two Māori Labour MPs supporting their existence.

Labour MPs Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson have both publicly said they want existing schools to stay open, even though Labour campaigned on abolishing them.

New Zealand Education Institute president Lynda Stuart says teachers are hoping Mr Davis and Mr Jackson come to their senses.

"They were part of their election manifesto, part of the promises they made before the election. I think Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis will be true to their Labour Party roots, one would hope."

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins introduced a Member's Bill in 2016 to "absolutely get rid of charter schools", in his own words. It failed at its first reading.

The party has since softened its policy, saying it would allow some charter schools to remain as 'special character' schools. The difference between a special character school and a charter school is the former teaches the national curriculum, while the latter can set their own. Both are publicly funded.

Mr Jackson told Three's The Hui on Sunday he's okay with the party's current policy.

"We've made it clear that we don't support big business coming into schools. Absolutely support what Chris Hipkins has been saying in terms of special character schools, I think that can work as long as our kids are being looked after."

Ms Stuart says Labour, NZ First and the Greens are on a similar page with charter schools.

"Between the three of them, many of those policies are policies we would like to come to fruition. We're looking forward to seeing the money go into our public education system, rather than into privatisation."

Charter schools were an ACT Party initiative.

"We're totally focused on ensuring we have a high quality public education system in New Zealand, and charter schools isn't really a part of that," says Ms Stuart.