In fact, all of the first three charter secondary schools seem to have performed below their NCEA Level 2 contract performance standard in 2014.
If Mr Seymour took a look at the charter school contracts, he would see that the performance standard for student achievement against NCEA is set out in Annex A.
It clearly states that the contract standard for “school leavers with NCEA Level 2 or higher” was set at 66.9% for the 2014 academic year for each school.
The government data published on the Education Counts website for each of the charter secondary schools reveals the following for “School Leavers with at least NCEA Level 2” for 2014:
These results compare very unfavourably with the national school leaver figure of 77.1% leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2 or higher (School Leaver stats are published by the Ministry on this site under the Find A School application.)
The problems at the charter school based in Whangaruru have been well documented but the Minister not only let them stay open but gave them even more funding!
Now it looks as if student achievement below contract performance standard is not only going to be swept under the carpet but the Under Secretary will talk it up as being “encouraging”.
– Bill Courtney, SOSNZ
Here is what the Minister said (Oral Questions no. 8, 29 July 2015):
“Te Pumanawa o te Wairua will continue to operate under its contract and will therefore receive $412,000 per quarter.”
“This is the money that would have been spent had these kids attended other schools.”
Wrong, Hekia, wrong.
Under her charter school funding model, the government pays $355,200 per quarter for the fixed costs that it pays the school’s Sponsor. These costs would cease once the school was closed.
Add in the additional $129,000 in emergency funding that she has thrown in, and the taxpayer will pay a total of $839,400 over the balance of 2015 because the Minister of Education decided not to close the school at the end of the second term.
The charter funding model has four components for each school: two of these are “fixed costs” and two are “variable costs”. But only the variable, or per student costs, would continue and follow the students if they were to transfer to another school in the network.
Here’s the breakdown of the quarterly funding for Wairua for 2015:
Base Funding $252,128
Property & Insurance $103,072
Sub-total Fixed Costs $355,200 [86.2%]
Per Student (based on a Guaranteed Minimum Roll of 40) $54,188
Centrally Funded Services $2,760
Sub-total Variable Costs $56,948 [13.8%]
Total Quarterly Funding: $412,148
So, when Hekia quoted a cost of “412,000 per quarter” she was referring to the total funding that the school receives from the Government.
But $355,200 per quarter would not be payable, if she were to close the school, as her officials clearly recommended.
~ Bill Courtney, Save Our Schools NZ
Can’t explain where it’s gone.
But it won’t be investigated.
Auditors “raised concerns as to whether some expenses could not considered normal operational expenses” including
money withdrawals from Takeaways
… purchases from Cafes,
… Domino’s Pizza,
… and Burger King.
But it won’t be investigated.
Anyone want to take a wild stab at what kind of school it is?
It seems there is one rule for one and one for another, and never the twain shall meet.
Not sure what I mean? Well, let’s compare Hekia Parata’s treatment of Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school with the closed and merged Christchurch state schools.
Hekia’s Double Standards
WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school has a falling roll and is down to just 39 pupils, despite its contract stating it must have a minimum of 71. Hekia Parata keeps it open against ministry advice and gives additional money.
CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Phillipstown had over 160 students.(4) At least one of the other schools had a growing roll. Hekia merges Phillipstown and closes or merges other schools, arguing that falling rolls meant they were too small and too costly. One of the merged schools is already reported to already be overcrowded.
WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Communities and professional bodies have grave concerns about the school, but Hekia decides to keep the school open.
CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Communities and professional bodies spoke up for the schools and fought to keep them open (5) but Hekia decided to close or merge almost all of them.
WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school was given a 28 closure notice in February. It continued until late July, and has been now been given until October to improve. Kept open repeatedly.
CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Branston, Linwood and Manning school closures were all brought forward significantly, despite promises by Ministry to the communities that they would be remain open for another school year or more. Closed by Hekia, and sooner than promised.
WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Ongoing reports of poor attendance, bullying, drug use and management infighting. (2) School kept open by Hekia.
CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: No concerns about management or student health and safety. Schools closed by Hekia.
WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: The Ministry of Education, ERO and Deloitte’s audit have all deemed Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school to be failing. this school has again been kept open.
CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: All of the schools were considered good schools. Some were outstanding. These schools were closed and/or merged.
WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Very low levels of achievement – only one student reported to have gained NCEA, out of 49 put forward.(1) School kept open by Hekia.
CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Students achieving well. Schools closed by Hekia.
Stark double standards
Time and again we saw these Christchurch schools being given no leeway by Hekia – no time for their communities to settle post-quake and no consideration for distressed staff and students coping with ongoing quake trauma. Decisions were made in a cold, clinical and often seemingly heartless way.
In stark contrast, Hekia is reported to be genuinely concerned about the pupils at Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school. That is to her credit. But why the difference in treatment?
No matter where you stand on charter schools, it’s pretty clear that Hekia Parata is bizarrely unfair when it comes to her treatment of different types of schools: Ideology is clouding her judgement.
The Education Minister has announced that a troubled Northland charter school has been issued with a performance notice, but she needs to take responsibility for the dire situation, says NZEI President Louise Green.
The Trust running Te Pumanawa o te Wairua School is now required to take immediate action to address areas of serious concern at the school.
However, Ms Green said it was Minister Hekia Parata’s refusal to listen to ministry advice that meant the school opened in the first place, even though it was obviously ill-equipped to do so.
“This has been a disaster for the children in this charter school. They’ve paid the price for being caught up in a clash between ideological determination and good advice,” she said.
“The good news this week is that the Minister will not be calling for another round of charter school applications this year.
“The breakneck speed at which the first nine schools opened is not helping kids or the well-meaning organisations that are trying to operate them.
“Educators have been greatly concerned from the start about the impact, effectiveness and accountability of these privately-run and publically funded schools. It’s time to put this experiment on ice and instead put the resources into public schools.”
Education Minister Hekia Parata has issued the Trust running Te Pumanawa o te Wairua School with a performance notice requiring it to take immediate action to address areas of serious concern at the school.
Ms Parata met with the Ngā Parirau Mātauranga Charitable Trust today to lay out her concerns about ongoing issues identified by the Education Review Office (ERO) and the Ministry of Education. The Trust is the sponsor for the school at Whangaruru.
“I have become increasingly concerned at the cumulative failures in performance that have seen declining numbers of kids enrolled, sporadic school attendance and the knock-on effect on educational performance.
“The Ministry has worked extensively with the Trust over the past year to address the issues raised, but ERO has found that it would not be able to operate effectively without further substantial support.”
Ms Parata says she is aware of the challenges faced by the school. “A number of these students have been out of the education system for some time. However, these challenges were known by the Trust when they made their proposal and later signed the contract to run the school.
“The Ministry has provided support and advice over many months to the sponsor in a number of areas, including governance, management and operational matters.
“There were some improvements at the school last year, particularly when it was under an interim Chief Executive, but they were not sustained after the interim CE left the school.”
Ms Parata says the Trust has put forward a remedial plan, but she is not confident that it is sufficient to make the difference required.
“Therefore, under the agreement, I have issued a performance notice. This sets out exactly what the performance failures are and what must be done to address them.”
She says a Specialist Audit will be conducted at the school in a month’s time to assess progress.
“I intend to use the findings of the Specialist Audit to assist my overall judgement as to whether the failings identified are capable of being rectified.
“Partnership schools are giving many kids who’ve faced considerable difficulties in their lives the chance to get engaged in education again. But it is our duty to ensure they do actually receive the quality of education they need to open the doors of further promise in their lives.”
Ms Parata says she is not predetermining the outcome of the process.
“The issuing of a performance notice is a step in the process to both protect the rights of these students to get a better education while protecting the use of taxpayers’ funding.”
By anyone’s measure, Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru had a bad first year. The Northland charter school was plagued with problems – staff, buildings, pupils, drugs, you name it. Even the principal sounds mortified.
Given charter schools have been touted as the cure for all ills, this school has become something of an embarrassment.
But that’s okay, isn’t it, because we were all assured that any charter schools failing to meet the grade would be closed quick smart…. So is Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru being closed down?
It’s getting a new name: Te Pumanawa O Te Wairua.
Because one thing the private sector has taught us, is that if your business is poor and is associated with low standards, all you need is a new name and logo, and bingo!
Of course, a new name does nothing to improve things for students, but it *will* make it harder for people to search on the web and find out about the many troubles the school had in its first year, and surely that’s what matters….
It’s also worth pondering what the cost of changing the name will be. New stationery, new school sign, changes to web sites and who knows what. It won’t cost the cool $20 Million that Telecom budgeted when becoming Spark, but it’s still an unnecessary cosmetic change that’s paid for by our tax dollars. The NZ Taxpayers Union should be up in arms about it…. eh, Jordan?
Welcome to the wonderful world of the privatisation.
Parata defends Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru – Radio NZ
Charter school 3 teachers down – NZ Herald
Bill Courtney – Charter Schools: The Shroud of Secrecy Continues
Charter school shambles show Government’s failing experiment