Partnership SchoolsMaxim Institute - 02-08-12

The Government is on the right track with its announcement of its newly named Partnership School framework. 

The basic model put forward today will likely see new providers opening state schools that will give some sorely needed alternatives to regular state schools according to Maxim Institute Senior Researcher Steve Thomas.

“Research findings on Partnership Schools’ performance in other places have been mixed so New Zealanders should not expect them to be a silver bullet for all of the problems in the education system,” says Thomas.

“However, they give a chance for flexibility and innovation that is not possible in regular state schools. With the right support for those who run them, they have enormous potential.”

Thomas says the success of the Partnership Schools will depend largely on the specifics of their mission and the partners that take on the opportunity. 

“The Government has taken an important step in trusting the non-profit and business sector to bring their skills into education. It will be important that providers are given a decent chance to get going before New Zealand’s Partnership Schools are judged. But it will also be critical that those schools are regularly taking their own pulse and ensuring they are on track,” he says.

The Partnership Schools will not be restricted by many of the regulations to which regular state schools must adhere; although they will still be carefully monitored by their sponsoring body and by the Education Review Office.

They will be free to set their own staff pay rates, choose their own staff, including a share of unregistered teachers, choose from recognised curricula and set their own term dates for the year.

“This is a good opportunity for New Zealand education,” says Thomas. “It provides the opportunity for new and different providers to establish alternatives to regular state schools, which will improve the range of schools from which families can choose for their children. New Zealanders would be mistaken not to give the opportunity every chance of success.”

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