Education Minister Chris Hipkins continues to treat partnership schools, their students and families with contempt, failing to answer basic questions and leaving them in limbo as the new school year approaches, National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Minister has written to schools six weeks late but the letter raises more questions than it answers. It basically just instructs them to wait til February for the opportunity to discuss their future.
“He’s failed to answer really basic questions such as will the schools be able to remain open for the whole 2018 year and what will the requirements and options be if the partnership school model is cancelled and schools have to reapply to stay open?
“The letter also says the meetings about their future will happen for ‘existing schools’ which raises the question whether those due to open next year and in 2019 will be able to fight for their own futures.
“In what is fast becoming a pattern of behaviour of this Government he is also failing to release official information which might help inform the families.
“It’s just not good enough. He is showing nothing but contempt for the schools, the students and their families who are simply asking whether their schools will remain open.
“These families have chosen these schools because they believe they are best for their children. Why does Chris Hipkins get to tell them otherwise?
“Partnership schools and parents are quite rightly just wanting answers about their futures but either the Minister has no idea or he just doesn’t want to deliver bad news at Christmas.
“This is one of the largest school reorganisations or potential closure processes in our country’s history. It involves more than 1000 children, including a number with very complex needs.
“The fact that these schools have legally binding contracts also means any move to close them could lead to significant legal costs. The Minister needs to explain how much these might be.
“If it wants to continue with its misguided and ill-informed closure of partnership schools then the Government needs to do the right thing and at least be much more open and transparent with the families and schools about what is going on,” Ms Kaye says.