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Seven more charter schools could open

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/05/2016

Next week's budget will set aside funding for potentially seven new charter schools.

ACT leader David Seymour says the exact number will depend on the quality of proposals received.

It will be contingency funding and the schools are expected to open in 2018 and 2019.

They'll join the eight already open along with several others due to open during 2017.

"Last year we received 26 applications, well in excess of the funding available," Mr Seymour said on Friday.

"We look forward to seeing a range of new educational approaches coming out of these schools."

Mr Seymour, who is under-secretary to the minister of education, says as with all charter schools, learning outcomes will be closely monitored and reported on publicly.

But teachers' unions and the Green Party say the money should instead be spent on public schools.

"The state school system ends up having to pick up the pieces when these experiments go wrong, and it is children's education that suffers," Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said.

"The money should go into public schools that need it, not these charter schools."

PPTA president Angela Roberts said public money should be going towards what evidence shows helps the most vulnerable.

"Enabling schools to be hubs where students can connect with nurses, mental health and welfare support would have a much bigger impact than wasting money on an unproven experiment," she said.

NZEI national secretary Paul Goulter said charter schools were being promoted as offering choice, "but parents aren't crying out for charter schools".

"What they want is more money in their local schools, supporting kids where they already are."

Charter schools are an ACT Party initiative and are part of its support agreement with the government.

So far nine have opened and one has been forced to close because of management and teaching problems.

Charter schools can be run by church, business or community organisations.

The rationale for them is that they can tailor their teaching to suit students who are failing or performing poorly in the state school system.

Mr Seymour also announced on Friday that an independent organisation, E Tipu E Rea, had been established to support new, existing and prospective partnership schools.

It will seek most of its funding from private sources.

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