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Charter schools a mystery for many

Published: 7:27PM Saturday April 07, 2012 Source: ONE News

A ONE News poll has revealed more than a third of New Zealanders do not know what charter schools are.

The Government is rolling out the privately-run schools in South Auckland and Christchurch next year as part of the Act Party's support agreement with the National-led Government.

However, a ONE News poll asking people whether they thought the schools were a good idea has found 36% of voters were unsure what they were.

The poll found 22% supported the introduction of charter schools while 30% thought they were not a good idea.

Associate Education minister John Banks said he was not surprised by the results of the survey as the framework of the New Zealand charter school system had not been released.  

"Over the next twelve months they will clearly understand that we cannot tolerate 20% of our kids leaving our school without a literacy or numeracy skills," said Banks.  

The New Zealand model will see charter schools run by private enterprises like business, or iwi and Christian groups who will have the freedom to decide school terms and hours.

They will receive the same government funding as state schools but can create courses and qualifications outside of the state system.

Under the Act Party model, they may also be allowed to hire unqualified teachers like carpenters or youth workers, and set their own salaries for teachers.

However, they will be subjected to independent assessment.

The controversial system has met opposition from education unions who say they have not seen any evidence that charter schools improves rates of success.

Post Primary Teachers Assocation President Robin Duff said the Government needed to facilitate debate with education providers over what the system will involve.

He said evidence from overseas was charter schools were "overwhelmingly" making little difference.

"If it fails, how do you explain to a decade of youngsters that it was a disaster?" said Duff.

Banks is hoping to have charter schools up and running by next year.