Existing partnership schools can breathe a short sigh of relief after Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed through the media that the schools can stay open with no changes until the end of 2018, National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“This is an important temporary breather for these ten schools who can continue planning for the new school year which is just around the corner. It will also give them the chance to negotiate their long-term future,” Ms Kaye says.
“Given Mr Hipkins will not personally front up and meet with these schools, he must urgently write to them now and provide formal clarification. It’s not good enough that the students, parents and staff have had to find out through last minute comments to media.
“He is still to confirm the fate of the six new schools yet to open, two of which are due to open in the 2018 school year which is just weeks away. One of these schools has more than 50 children enrolled – they and their parents quite rightly want answers about their futures.
“Another school received a different letter to that received by the 10 existing schools telling them Mr Hipkins would meet them for a chat early next year, whereby it is not clear whether that school can open for all of 2018. The letter is also carefully worded in that it doesn’t say the Government supports them opening, but rather it is the decision of the school to open.
“The schools due to open in 2018 started the process with the Crown in 2016. Funds were appropriated for the schools in that year’s Budget and the contracts were signed in July 2017. A lot of work has gone into getting the schools ready to open their doors to some of our most vulnerable students next year and now they’re wondering if it was all for nothing.
“Even for the existing schools, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. For instance, what will the basic requirements be if the partnership school model is cancelled and what schools, if any, will be able to remain open under new model? This information needs to be provided quickly so that the schools have time to make their case.
“These schools have been making a real difference to the lives of kids who have struggled in mainstream education. It’s frankly a disgrace that Mr Hipkins continues to treat them, their students and their families with such contempt and is prepared to leave them in limbo.
“To make matters worse, one of the schools’ sources of hope, Deputy Labour Leader Kelvin Davis, appears to have reneged on his promise to resign if two partnership schools in his electorate closed. Unfortunately today in Question Time he refused to confirm that this was still his intention, leading us believe he has given up on them.
“As Associate Education Minister with responsibility for improving te reo, you’d think he’d be fighting hard for schools that have a focus on lifting achievement in te reo. He has ministerial responsibility to answer questions on the partnership schools’ futures so it will be hugely disappointing if he continues to duck for cover and abandons the fight for their survival.”
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.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ pattern of creating confusion and chaos continues with parents and schools being sent mixed messages about whether children can start school in the weeks before they turn five or not, National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Last week Mr Hipkins said he would change the law around cohort entry so that kids could not start school before the age of five. The Ministry of Education has since said that schools that have already adopted the policy, or are in consultation to, will be able to allow four year olds to enter from Term 1 2018, but it is unclear when the law will change and what the new rules will be,” Ms Kaye says.
“Parents want to know well in advance when their child will be able to start school, and schools need to know so that they can prepare for their new entrants. But Mr Hipkins is sending mixed signals, leaving them with more questions than answers.
“For instance, how long will the existing law be in place? And will the new law mean that thousands of children will have to wait longer than their fifth birthday to start at the school their parents have chosen for them if that school has adopted cohort entry?
“Cohort entry is about helping kids to make an easier transition from early learning to school and it is up to schools to decide with their community if they want to adopt the policy.
“The existing law says that schools who do adopt cohort entry cannot revoke it without giving a term’s notice so Mr Hipkins must clarify the timeline for a law change, and provide certainty about what the new rules will be so that schools are not consulting on policy that will be changed part way through next year.
“To make matters worse, I’ve had confirmation that the Prime Minister received no reports or briefings on this issue before Mr Hipkins announced it. This means there could not have been a Cabinet paper on the law change which is startling given it affects thousands of children. It looks like Mr Hipkins unilaterally made the decision to change the law without going through the proper Cabinet process.
“This is just the latest example of Mr Hipkins making announcements on the hoof without providing any detail, that have a real impact on children’s lives. Just over a month into the job and already he has backtracked on National Standards, free tertiary education, Partnership Schools and international students. What’s next?
“The new school year is just weeks away and parents and schools deserve to have certainty around when kids can start school. It’s time for Mr Hipkins to front up with the details.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ decision to take away parents’ ability to have their children start school in the weeks before their fifth birthday is nanny-state and ideologically driven, National Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National made changes to give schools and parents the option of enrolling children in groups at the start of each term. This means some children, at the request of their parents, can start school at the most eight weeks before their fifth birthday rather than waiting until the next term,” Ms Kaye says.
“However the Education Minister believes he knows better than parents and will change the law so that children cannot start school before the age of five.
“The law change will mean that some children will have to wait longer than their fifth birthday to start at the school that their parents have chosen for them if that school has adopted cohort entry.
“The good news is that the Minister appears to be saying that cohort entry for children five and over will stay in the law and can be adopted by schools that want it.
“Cohort entry is about helping children to settle better in school. Many parents know that a child arriving at school on their own can feel self-conscious and out of place. Experts on early learning argued for this change because they believe it will make the transition easier. We also know that some schools were already doing cohort entry as they consider it offers kids the best start to their school life.
“National backs schools to know what is right for their community and believes in parents being able to choose when the right time to send their child to school is.
“This is the latest example of the Labour Party deciding it knows better than parents, following their decision to deny parents the choice to take paid parental leave together. New Zealanders know what is best for themselves and their families.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins is creating confusion yet again about the future of the education system by failing to provide any detail on the replacement of National Standards, says National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye.
“In the last couple of weeks the Minister has said that National Standards will be gone very quickly, however today in Question Time he admitted he is still yet to sign off the timeline,” Ms Kaye says.
“Parents need to know how their kids are doing at school and National Standards are a key part of that.
“So it is irresponsible of the Minister to state that National Standards will be gone very quickly without providing a detailed proposal of what it will be replaced with. You’d think that after nine years in opposition they would have an idea about what a replacement might look like.
“The Minister has created further confusion today by stating that no school will be forced to scrap National Standards, which leads us to believe he is advocating for multiple systems of reporting. This is at odds with his numerous public statements about scrapping National Standards entirely.
“Having multiple reporting systems could have consequences for getting a consistent nationwide picture of achievement. If this is the case, the Minister needs to answer a number of questions on what this means for parents and how schools will choose their preferred system of reporting.
“Scrapping or changing National Standards is one of the most significant education decisions to be made in several years. The education sector and parents deserve to know the timeline, the process of engagement and have iron-cast guarantees around the replacement system and reporting to parents.
“National campaigned on improving National Standards to move to a system of progression which would have included a significant investment to support the education sector. A large decision like scrapping or changing National Standards would ideally involve greater cross-party agreement.
“It is disappointing that the Minister is yet to front up with a detailed statement on this issue. Instead we are being drip-fed bits of inconsistent information – parents and schools deserve better than this.”
The latest decision by the Government to continue with the Education (Public Good not Profit from Charter Schools) Bill will add to the confusion about the future of these schools for the families and students who care deeply about them, National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“This legislation would wipe out Vanguard Military School, for example, which plays a hugely positive role in the lives of hundreds of our children. It is delivering fantastic results, and the new Government is putting that at risk by putting the ideological views of the unions before the needs of students and parents,” says Ms Kaye.
“Is this legislation another mistake by the Leader of the House and Education Minister Chris Hipkins? Why would you progress legislation to get rid of only one partnership school when you’ve promised to review all partnership schools?
“I am concerned that the Government may try and amend this legislation to get rid of all partnership schools prior to Christmas. This would be at odds with their commitment over the weekend to review all schools.
“There are legitimate questions about whether this review is a sham as the Minister gives the appearance of having a closed mind given his previous careless comments.
“The way the Minister can clear this up is by answering some basic questions about the review. We have no details about who is doing the review, the potential costs of the review, when it will be completed by, or what the requirements and options could be if the partnership school model goes and schools are required to convert to state integrated or special character schools.
“These schools have legally binding contracts. If the Minister is not careful with the process that he and the Ministry undertake they may end up costing the taxpayer in compensation payments or court processes,” Ms Kaye says.
“The new Government has already had numerous positions on partnership schools, from repealing the legislation to negotiating on a case-by-case basis to reviewing the schools – and this latest move just adds to the confusion for parents and students.
“The Prime Minister said today that she wanted New Zealand to become a kinder more caring nation. Closing these schools when they deliver such fantastic benefits to our children is not a caring and kind thing to do.”
Reports today that Chris Hipkins has cancelled four new partnership schools with signed contracts with the Crown due to start in 2019 will be hugely disappointing for the promoters of the schools and families planning to send their children there, National Party Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“As I understand it the Minister hasn’t even met with the sponsors and several of the sponsors found out their contracts would be cancelled via the media,” Ms Kaye says.
“The four schools included an Auckland school focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and a new Vanguard school in Christchurch.
“These sponsors have spent time and money securing contracts with the Crown and preparing to open these schools. They deserve better than this.
“Regardless of the Minister’s ideological opposition to partnership schools they deserve a fair process and good communication with the Minister and the Ministry. The public also deserves to know any costs to the crown of cancelling these contracts,” Kaye says.
“It’s hard to believe the new government is so blinkered that it won’t allow people to set up new schools to improve achievement for New Zealand’s children.
“The recent Martin Jenkins report shows that many of the partnership schools are performing well and supporting disadvantaged children. That’s why National supports them.
“With regard to the rest of the schools (the current 10 that are open and the two due to open next year) there needs to be transparency about the process that the new Government will be going through about their future.
“The Government has sent mixed messages regarding partnership schools. It is not clear if any of these schools will remain and if they do remain what the nature of their funding and governance arrangements will be.
“The Government needs to be upfront about their future or at the very least the process to determine their future.”
The four new schools due to open in 2019 are:
• City Senior School in Central Auckland, sponsored by City Senior School Limited, will have a mission to nurture and support young people with a particular focus on becoming innovative and creative global citizens. It will be a co-educational senior secondary school for years 11-13, with an opening roll of 100 students and a maximum roll of 300 students.
• Tūranga Tangata Rite in Gisborne, sponsored by Te Runanga o Tūranganui a Kiwa, will focus primarily on Māori students with a, ‘by iwi for iwi’ approach. It will be a co-educational junior secondary school for years 9-11 with an opening roll of 45 students and a maximum roll of 55 students.
• Vanguard Military School Christchurch in Christchurch, will promote attitudinal, behavioural and academic excellence and encourage training and employment pathways beyond school. It will be a co-educational senior secondary school for years 11-13, with an opening roll 120 students and a maximum roll of 210 students.
• Waatea High in South Auckland, sponsored by Te Whare Wananga O MUMA Limited, a subsidiary of the Manukau Urban Māori Authority, will focus on priority learners and have a ‘Māori for Māori’ philosophy. It will be a co-educational bi-lingual secondary school for years 9-13, with an opening roll of 50 and a maximum roll of 145 students. The school will complement the sponsor’s existing early childhood education centre and primary year partnership school, Te Kura Māori o Waatea to provide a complete education pathway.
Labour’s plan to dismantle National Standards shows their disregard for parents and the needs of students around the country, National Party MP Nikki Kaye says.
“Parents need to know where their kids are up to and children need to know how they are getting on. National Standards are a key part of that,” Ms Kaye says.
“Families also deserve to know what Labour will replace National Standards with – not be told they are going to overhaul the way our students learn but will get back to you with the details later.
“Labour are showing how little thought they have put into their policy changes, with Education Minister Chris Hipkins still unable to tell parents how his education policy will affect students and parents.”
Ms Kaye says National Standards provide the Ministry of Education with key information to allow the Government to target interventions and improvements on schools that are not doing well, and focus efforts where they can have the biggest impact on student achievement.
“Having National Standards ensures that happens, and Labour’s plan undermines that without having a replacement.
“This is typical Labour – the party of reviews and working groups. They demand change for change’s sake but don’t have their own ideas about how to take New Zealand forward.
“It’s important we develop the right tools that parents and teachers can trust and have confidence in.
“Mr Hipkins has said that National Standards will be gone quickly. Parents and students deserve better than that. We disagree with getting rid of them but for the government to say they are getting rid of National Standards quickly without a fully developed system across all schools is irresponsible.
“Labour needs to front up with New Zealanders and explain their intentions or admit that once again they have no idea.”
New partnerships to support the ‘Youth Spaces Plus’ programme in Rotorua and Priority One’s ‘Instep - Ngā Wahine o Mereaira’ programme in the Bay of Plenty will create at least 590 new youth development opportunities, Youth Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.
“More than $334,000, including Government and partner contributions, will be invested to make these new opportunities available,” says Ms Kaye.
The investments are being made under the Partnership Fund, which sees the Government co-invest with business, philanthropic, iwi and other partners to grow youth development opportunities in New Zealand.
“Along with the Ministry of Youth Development, partners supporting the Youth Spaces Plus initiative include Rotorua Lakes Council, the Department of Internal Affairs, BayTrust, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and community supporters,” says Ms Kaye.
“Youth Spaces Plus builds on other local initiatives that support communities to take a holistic approach to meeting needs such as health, education and employment, and provide recreational facilities where young people can safely socialise and be active.
“The partnership’s support will enable Youth Spaces Plus to target young people living in Rotorua’s Western Heights, Fordlands and Te Koutu communities.
“Up to 120 young people will be supported to develop their own leadership skills, while providing leadership, mentoring and volunteering opportunities for around 400 other young people in their communities.
“This is about growing the next generation of young leaders, and also helping to build greater community cohesiveness and wellbeing at the same time.”
“Partners involved in Priority One’s Instep – Ngā Wahine o Mereaira programme include the Ministry of Youth Development, the New Zealand Lotteries Grant Board, Tauranga Girls College, Ngai Te Rangi Iwi and Ngati Ranginui Iwi,” says Ms Kaye.
“The goal of this programme is to help young Maori develop their own strengths and in turn empower others.
“The partnership’s investment will enable around 70 young people to receive leadership and mentoring opportunities.
“It will also support a one-day youth summit, bringing together students from 11 high schools in the region, along with representatives of local businesses, iwi and other community stakeholders. This will provide an opportunity for students to learn about each other’s challenges and successes, and also build connections with others in their community.
“It’s great to be supporting the development of more young leaders, who will go on to be positive role models in their communities,” says Ms Kaye.
“These new partnerships are made possible by the Government’s investment of around $1.7 million in the Partnership Fund for 2017/18.
“Over 7000 new leadership, mentoring and volunteering opportunities have been created since the fund was set up in 2016.
“The 2017/18 funding will enable more new partnerships and support more talented young people to grow their skills and resilience, and take their aspirations to the next level.”
Notes re partner contributions
Youth Spaces PlusMinistry of Youth Development Partnership Fund - $120,000 over two years Rotorua Lakes Council - in-kind support Department of Internal Affairs Lotteries Community Grant - $80,000 over two years BayTrust - $60,000 Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust - $20,000 Community supporters - in-kind support
Priority One’s Instep – Ngā Wahine o Mereaira programmeMinistry of Youth Development Partnership Fund - $12,000 New Zealand Lotteries Grant Board - $20,000 Tauranga Girls College - in-kind support Ngai Te Rangi Iwi - in-kind support Ngati Ranginui Iwi - in-kind support
Fifteen councils up and down New Zealand will share $280,000 of funding under the 2017 Local Government Youth Partnership Fund, Youth Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.
“This fund is about encouraging and supporting city, district and regional councils to partner with the Government, businesses and philanthropic and iwi partners to grow youth development opportunities,” says Ms Kaye.
“Funding of between $10,000 and $45,000 will be provided to support a range of projects in 2017 and 2018, ranging from sport and outdoor education programmes, to a region-wide town beautification project led by young people.”
The fifteen councils receiving funding are:Far North District Council - $24k to support members of the Far North Youth Council to receive training in peer mentoring and put their skills into practice through a series of youth engagement events Auckland Council - $45k to support (i) the delivery in South Auckland of Makertrail, a programme aimed at exciting a passion for STEM subjects, and (ii) the Riverside Youth Zone in East Auckland/Tamaki, involving youth leaders delivering a range of programmes in response to community interest and need Hamilton City Council - $10k towards Seed Waikato, monthly events that connect young people to learn from inspirational speakers Taupo District Council - $30k towards Rangatahi Collective Hub, a volunteering programme that upskills young people to provide children’s after-school and holiday activities Waikato Regional Council - $20k to support workshops on science and social innovation, aimed at identifying solutions for a healthy Tokoroa and surrounding districts Ruapehu District Council - $13k approx to support projects carried out by Ruapehu Youth Council ambassadors, including tree planting, a community sports day and beautification projects in the towns of Taumaranui, Raetihi and Ohakune Horowhenua District Council - $16k towards Tuwhitia Te Hopo (“Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”) aimed at building leadership and resilience and providing opportunities to volunteer as mentors Masterton District Council - $23k towards CoLab, a programme that catalyses local youth to develop a social enterprise project Upper Hutt City Council - $11k approx to provide leadership opportunities for young people, including those not in school or attending alternative education Nelson City Council - $20k towards Tō Tātou Hapori (“Our Community”) a partnership of community organisations fostering youth participation in their local neighbourhoods through volunteering and leadership opportunities Marlborough District Council - $9k approx to mentor members of the Marlborough Youth Trust Advisory Group, to increase their capacity to be confident, connected and contributing members of their community Westland District Council - $20k towards CACTUS Westland (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit Support) to deliver an intensive fitness and skills programme, involving activities including climbing, caving, rafting and mountain biking Hurunui District Council - $10k approx to support local young people to help design and implement a consultation process to input into the development of a youth strategy/action plan Environment Canterbury Regional Council - $20k to support a partnership with Youth Voice Canterbury to deliver leadership training and mentoring, and establish a regional youth panel connected to the Council and potentially the Mayoral Forum Queenstown Lakes District Council - $6k approx to support young people to write and present a submission to the Wakatipu Basin Annual Plan, and plan, promote and run various activities in Upper Clutha.
“The Local Government Youth Partnership Fund recognises that councils have far-reaching local networks with young people, local businesses, iwi and community partners,” says Ms Kaye.
“We want to help young people access and benefit from these connections to grow their capabilities and resilience, and contribute to their communities at the same time.
“The fund is overseen by the Partnership Fund Board, set up in 2016 as part of a new direction for youth development in New Zealand.
“A focus of this new direction is working more collaboratively to deliver and grow youth development opportunities such as mentoring, volunteering and leadership opportunities.
“It’s great to be able to support councils to reach out to local youth and build opportunities for them to become more involved, and develop their own potential at the same time.
“I expect that together, we will support the creation of more than 2,500 new youth development opportunities through these projects.”
More information about the Local Government Youth Partnership Fund and the projects that will be supported in 2017/18 is available here.