All NZ charter schools now approved to become state integrated

Students from Vanguard Military School.
Students from Vanguard Military School. Photo credit: Newshub.

All 12 of New Zealand's charter schools have been approved for transition to state integrated schools.

It marks the end to a rather short era.

Legislation allowing charter schools was passed in 2012, as part of Act's support deal with the National Party.

In the lead-up to the 2017 election, Labour, NZ First and the Greens all campaigned on disestablishing the schools. They had support from the teacher unions and education authorities.

"We have worked with the charter schools to find a way forward for them within the state system and no existing charter schools are closing their doors," Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The last two schools to be approved for transition were Tūranga Tangata Rite in Gisborne and Waatea School in Auckland.

Te Kura Māori o Waatea will open as a year 1-8 state integrated school in 2019, and Tūranga Tangata Rite, which was not yet up and running, will open as a state-integrated school in 2020.

"I am pleased that we have been able to provide certainty and continuity for the schools' students and their wider communities. The new designated character and state integrated schools will benefit from the added protections and supports that the state system provides," Mr Hipkins said.

ACT leader David Seymour says the moment is bitter-sweet.

"In the long run, it's gonna be harder for the students, because the schools will not have the full flexibility that charter schools had to deliver a fresh education," Mr Seymour told Newshub.

The charter school model was adopted rapidly by some Māori groups, who saw the schools as an opportunity to deliver schooling outside mainstream education.

Respected Māori educators Sir Toby Curtis and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal, arguing there was a lack of Māori inclusion in the decision to redesignate charter schools, and that lack of consultation breached the Crown's obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

National's education spokesperson Nikki Kaye told Newshub it's hypocritical of the Government to say it wants to work closely with Māori while the charter school legislation progresses.

"They talk a big game around Māori relations, while at the same time... they have been progressing legislation while there's a Waitangi Tribunal claim against the Crown."

Ms Kaye said schools are being offered a "rigid solition".

"These are different schools. Under the previous model, they had flexibility around both the way their teaching resource occured, but also they had a completely different governance model."