Jacinda Ardern passionately defends scrapping 'broken' charter schools

  • 13/02/2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's hopeful there won't have to be a "large-scale shutdown" of charter schools after her Government opted to end the education model.

Ms Ardern told The AM Show on Tuesday morning that while the charter school model is being outlawed, she hopes the institutions will adapt and become designated character schools so they can remain open.

And she had a spirited response when host Duncan Garner asked why, if the charter school system wasn't broken, the Government was ditching it: "Well it is broken, Duncan."

"I don't believe we should be making money out of kids' education, when that money could be going into kids. There are some that probably don't run a for-profit model, and for them the transition probably won't be a problem," she added.

"In some cases [charter schools] may receive more funding than a state school, they're able to run as a profit-making business, they're not required to have registered teachers, and they're not required to teach the curriculum."

Ms Ardern says not all charter schools operate in that way, however, and believes some will "be happy" to evolve into a designated character school or an integrated school.

"That's what we're in the process of doing at the moment: talking to charter schools about transitioning," she said.

"That's a process that I'm hoping we'll see won't mean this large-scale shutdown."

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis has been outspoken in his support of certain charter schools, last year claiming he'd resign if two such institutions in Northland closed.

However, Ms Ardern doesn't believe there will be a need for him to step down from his role.

"He said that knowing we had a plan to transition these schools [and] he supports our position. That's why the Minister of Education is working alongside them now."

While Ms Ardern said she'd spoken to a number of charter school attendees and those who run them, she couldn't call recall ever stepping foot on the grounds of one.