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New charter school body under attack

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/07/2016

A trust is being set up with $500,000 of government money to help establish new charter schools, and it's under fire from the Labour Party.

Education spokesman Chris Hipkins says E Tipu E Rea Trust is a lobby group and he's asking why it's needed.

"If charter schools are such a great idea, National and ACT would not need to pump hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars into a group to lobby on their behalf," he said on Monday.

Charter schools, which are privately run and publicly funded, are an ACT initiative under the party's support agreement with the government.

ACT leader David Seymour says the trust isn't a lobby group.

"The group is not funded for lobbying," he said.

"The grant is conditional on the group assisting school sponsors to access additional expertise to develop high quality proposals."

Mr Seymour said the trust would operate in the same way as the School Trustees Association, which provides support for start-up and established schools.

The trustee board members include former All Black Michael Jones, Maori Party founder Dame Tariana Turia, Dame Jenny Gibbs and Rob McLeod, former chairman of Ernst and Young.

The trustees are not paid.

Mr Seymour's office says there will be an initial payment of $250,000 and the trust will have to present a business plan showing how it will deliver services.

Two further payments of $125,000 will be made in January and April 2017.

So far eight charter schools have been established and more are due to open later this year.

A fresh round of applications was announced last week.

The schools can be run by business, community or church groups.

They can set their own curriculum and don't have to hire registered teachers.

The rationale for them is that they can tailor their teaching for students who are failing or under-achieving in the state school system.

Labour and teacher unions strongly oppose them.

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