So yesterday it emerged that Willie Jackson’s application for a charter school has been accepted. It’s not official yet, but it’s almost certainly true, given the wackiness of most of the rest of the applications.
This map tells you one crucial thing you need to know about this charter school. It will most likely be where the blue dot is – at Nga Whare Waatea Marae.
That’s right, it’s within a couple of kilometres of a kura a iwi, a kura kaupapa Māori and numerous other schools.
Now, the local kura a iwi, Nga Tapuwae, won’t suffer as a result of this new school. They’re a designated character school, which means that they take students from all across Tāmaki whose parents chose to buy into the Tainui tikanga of the school. They have a long waiting list and are set to expand from 270 to around 600 students in coming years.
But over the other side of the motorway is Te Kura Kaupapa o Mangere. This school has 190 students, and is not a designated character school. In 2012 the ERO review commented on student behaviour that wasn’t being well managed. There is no waiting list at this kura.
And check out this table which is from a parliamentary question in June this year.
There certainly are times when school should be closed down, and similarly there are times when new schools need to open. But applying the Starbucks approach of cannibalizing local schools isn’t the way to go about this, and the Minister knows it. This should be about prudent fiscal management, good use of the school network – and as a result, much better and more equitable outcomes for students.
So, can the Minister guarantee that if Willie Jackson gets his kura, that students staying at TKKM o Mangere won’t lose curriculum breadth or extra-curricular options? And that student losses won’t put pressure on the viability of other local kura? Can she guarantee that, unlike with the first round of charters, an analysis of the impact on other schools in the area will be done, in the same way as when any other school is opened?
And it has to be asked whether there’s been an approach to any of the schools within a 5km radius letting them know that a new school is about to open? If not, this shows how seriously the Minister really believes in the IES rhetoric of collaboration.