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New role for charter schools

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/12/2016

The role of charter schools is being expanded.

At present they're focused on "priority learners" - students who aren't succeeding in the state system.

From next year, applications will be accepted for charter schools focusing on the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths.

ACT leader David Seymour, whose party started charter schools, says STEM subjects are vital for New Zealand's economic growth.

"Partnership schools are well placed to provide STEM-focused education, thanks to their high degree of flexibility," he said.

"They could, for example, hire scientists and other STEM experts, and those schools could develop deep STEM-focused curricula."

Applications for STEM charter schools will be accepted in next year's round, and the first could open in 2019.

Charter schools are taxpayer-funded and can be run by community, business or church groups.

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

Labour's education spokesman, Chris Hipkins, says expanding their role will have huge ramifications.

"The idea that these schools were introduced to help priority learners was always a weak facade for the policy's true intention that has now been exposed," he said.

"Charter schools are nothing more than the wholesale privatisation of our world-class education system."

Teacher unions are fiercely opposed to charter schools.

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