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Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ contempt for partnership schools has translated into a clear disregard for the students and their families with the introduction of legislation to scrap these schools that have been making a real difference for vulnerable young people, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.

“Despite several Labour MPs previously voicing their support for partnership schools, including Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson, it appears the Government has no interest in doing the right thing by these schools, their students and their families.

“The Minister has stated that there will be no new partnerships schools, and existing partnership schools will now go into negotiations with the Ministry of Education about their future. But in the Minister’s own words, the preference is that the existing schools close.

“Last year the Minister accidentally tried to announce the closure of these schools prior to discussing it with them. He then left the schools waiting for clarity over the summer break with little information. To make matters worse, just days out from further meetings regarding the future of these schools, he has introduced this legislation and shown his true agenda.

“How can these schools going into negotiations in good faith when they know that the Minister wishes for them to close? How can the schools that choose not to close and go through a process to be converted into a different school have confidence in the fairness of the process, when the Minister has made his preference clear?

“It is also apparent that there is no transition plan for the children and young people who attend existing partnership schools. These are kids who have struggled in mainstream education and have finally found a school that works for them, but the Government wants to take that away and doesn’t appear to care what happens to them next.

“The way the Minister has treated partnership schools has been disgraceful and opened the Government up to significant legal costs.”

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