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Charter schools bill to get second look tomorrow

Published: 11:09AM Tuesday May 07, 2013 Source: ONE News

The subject of charter schools is firmly back on the agenda with Parliament expected to hear the bill's second reading tomorrow.

Associate Education Minister and Act Party leader John Banks is responsible for the charter school policy in the Education Ammendment Bill which passed its first reading in Parliament in October last year.

Charter school are able to determine their own curriculum and can be staffed by teachers who are not registered.

They receive public money, but are not subject to the same rules and regulations as a state school.

Labour has effectively conceded defeat in its battle against allowing a trial of the schools by putting forward a series of amendments to the legislation.

"We are totally against charter schools but we understand that the legislation is going to go through," Labour leader David Shearer told TV ONE's Breakfast.

"The Government's got the numbers and what we are saying is lets try lessen the bad impacts."

The amendments would impose teacher registration and curriculum requirements, as well as making the schools subject to the Official Information Act.

Education expert Peter O'Connor agrees with Labour, saying charter schools are a "really bad idea."

"The international evidence is really clear, this does not lift achievement across the system. It just might make a difference for a few individuals."

O'Connor said the amendments are a good start and the changes could make some difference.

He says if the system does not work because of the lack of transparency, the Official Information Act will reveal it.

The votes of the Maori Party became crucial to charter schools in mid-April when UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne said he would not be supporting the bill.

Having voted for it at the initial reading, Dunne warned he could not promise to vote for it again because of concerns over curriculum and not requiring registered teachers.

At the time, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said he supported charter schools, but the party did want to make sure teachers were qualified.

"We want people to have qualifications in some field or other; they may not be in teaching, but they may be in other disciplines," Sharples said.

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