The Government needs to put ideology aside and be open about its intentions for the future of children and young people attending partnership schools who just want to know that the schools they love can stay open, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“National supports both the existing charter schools and the schools that were set to open in 2019.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has made it clear that he has no interest in allowing partnership schools to flourish under the current model, but the entire process for terminating the model has been flawed from the start.

“Mr Hipkins said during a press conference this week that partnership schools that become designated character schools will get funding comparable to what they currently get, which is surprising given the fuss he’s kicked up in the past about these schools being overfunded.

“However, with negotiations being held behind closed doors it is not clear how much funding each school is likely to get. It has become clear that a number of schools have received establishment grant funding at a time when the Government has been proceeding to try and shut down the partnership school model.

“We also know the costs of scrapping the partnership school model could be around $15 million due to potential compensation payments. But Mr Hipkins has failed to front up about the potential cost implications for the partnership schools’ property.

“He’s also failed to mention that he has considered merging partnership schools with state schools. These schools want to stay open under the existing partnership school model, not be integrated into a state school or forced to become a designated character school.

“The schools are being asked to get applications to transition to a different model in before May, prior to the legislation being progressed through Parliament which can provide an alternative constitution for partnership schools.

“It has also come to light that while the Government has scrapped National Standards, it has recently told some partnership schools they must still report to National Standards. The inconsistent approach begs the question why partnership schools are being to a higher standard than other schools.

“And we’re still waiting for the release of the latest Martin Jenkins report which I understand shows partnership schools are achieving positive results. Schools provided data for this report in September, so the Government needs to explain why it is hiding this report.

“I have made a complaint to the Auditor-General regarding the process around scrapping the partnership school model and potential perceived conflicts of interests or preferential treatment by several ministers.

“These recent developments build an even stronger picture of a confused, ideological Government that puts politics ahead of what’s right for children with very complex needs.”

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