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Education Minister Chris Hipkins continues to disrespect partnership schools, overseeing a vindictive process to axe the model, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Mr Hipkins has given different treatment to different partnership schools, shown a lack of communication and transparency, and made flawed assumptions about some schools.

“We know for instance that the Ministry of Education failed to provide key information about Villa Education Trust’s application to Mr Hipkins, meaning that the report he used in making his decisions was incomplete and inaccurate.

“Mr Hipkins had reassured Villa that a decision would be made about its partnership schools by the end of July, but we now know that it will have to wait at least two more months for certainty about the future of its schools and students.

“The capping of Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology’s roll at 75, 225 less than what it applied for, also needs explaining. The school has had sign off from the Ministry on the site for capacity for 200 and there is huge interest, with over 90 students enrolled after just six months of being open.

“Incidentally, Villa Education Trust and Te Rangihakahaka have been the most vocal in criticising the Government’s partnership schools policy and approach to axing the model. These schools have received the worst treatment from Mr Hipkins, who appears to have been vindictive and sent a chilling message that those who criticise will be shafted.

“His announcement yesterday followed statements from Sir Toby Curtis who slated the Government for its treatment of partnership schools, quoting schools who say they have been muzzled and have felt the foot on their throat.

“Sir Toby’s statement backs up the feeling of fear that exists in some partnership schools and follows the Treaty of Waitangi claim he lodged with Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi. This claim, and pleas from students to keep their schools open, are being ignored by Mr Hipkins.

“He is arrogantly pressing ahead with the legislation to axe partnership schools and has tabled amendments in the last couple of weeks which have bypassed the select committee process so there is no ability for the public and schools to have their say.

“Mr Hipkins’s claim that partnership schools have been privatised is incorrect. The only one that is run by a private company is Vanguard Military School – the rest are run by iwi and charitable trusts.

“These schools, kids and their families are being treated in an appalling and vindictive way, and Mr Hipkins should be held accountable.”

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