Charter schools evaluation reveals next to nothing

The only useful conclusion in the Government-sanctioned evaluation of charter schools is the confirmation that smaller classes work better, the Green Party says.

The evaluation, carried out by consultancy firm Martin Jenkins and released publicly yesterday, was a narrow study of three of the first five charter schools, which are part of the National Government’s charter schools experiment.

"The report was meant to focus on innovation but the only educational ‘innovation’ clearly identified is that smaller class sizes work better,” says Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

“Given that we knew this already, it’s even more apparent that National’s charter schools experiment is a giant waste of money – money which would have been better spent reducing class sizes for all children in state schools.

"The report also identifies ‘risk taking’ as a strength of charter schools, even though we know the risks taken in allowing the Whangaruru charter school were disastrous for the children enrolled there.

“The worst thing about this evaluation is its failure to carry out any real comparison between state schools which innovate and charter schools, which supposedly help priority learners via innovation.

“All we know from this report is that the charter schools like the extra money from the Government, as well as their reduced accountability to the Government, and that small classes help students.

“There is also no mention of any innovation to assist students with special needs, who the Government says are a target for the charter schools model.

“There is already considerable innovation in many state schools and the Green Party’s School Hubs policy would build on that, as well as reduce inequality.

“Introducing School Hubs would mean every decile one to decile four school would have a nurse, food in schools and real community involvement – all of which will lead to a more inclusive education experience for our children,” said Ms Delahunty.

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