Labour: Charter school robbing kids of education

  • 25/07/2015

The government is robbing students at a troubled charter school of a chance at an education, Labour says.

Northland charter school Te Pumanawa o te Wairua School was given a second chance on Friday, with Education Minister Hekia Parata deciding to keep it open for the rest of the year.

The decision came despite a critical audit report that found the Whangaruru school was failing to meet several performance requirements.

Ms Parata said it was in the best interests of the school's 39 vulnerable students to keep it open.

But Labour's education spokesman, Chris Hipkins, said it "defied belief" that the school had been kept open after a "catalogue of failure".

"These kids are failing in this school," he said.

"They're being robbed of their chance at an education. These kids deserve a chance at education.

"Shovelling more money at a school that is clearly failing isn't going to give them a fair shot at education."

Mr Hipkins said the money would be better spent on helping state schools support troubled students.

"Hekia Parata has consistently ignored the advice the Ministry of Education have been giving her. They advised her not to open the Whangaruru charter school. They're now advising her to close the Whangaruru school," he said.

"She should get on and make the tough call now."

Ms Parata said it would be more disruptive, in the middle of the school year, to close the school and try to find other schools for the children.

But she made clear there would be another audit in October and if the school had not turned around its performance, there were no guarantees it would stay open.

The school was issued with a performance notice this year after problems with high staff turnover, low attendance and disengaged students were revealed in an Education Review Office report.

A special audit found problems with the school's financial performance, administration and governance.

Ms Parata said the audit findings provide grounds to terminate the partnership agreement with the school.

The school at Whangaruru was one of the first five charter schools to open at the beginning of last year.