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Kerre Woodham: Charter schools are making a comeback

Author
Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 May 2024, 10:20am
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Kerre Woodham: Charter schools are making a comeback

Author
Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 May 2024, 10:20am

Charter schools are making a comeback.  

So, what happened last time?  

When ACT was in confidence and supply with the John Key government, they were able to establish charter schools and they managed to establish 11 of them. 

Charter schools were designed to be a place for children who didn't fit into mainstream education. They had different structures, a different layout, and a different form of teaching. They still must follow a curriculum, but it is different from your normal education.  

I was wondering, given this story on neurodivergent children yesterday, are parents really feeling that the education system is failing their children? It's not just parents of neurodivergent children who feel the education system is failing them, though, is it? To be clear. Your average kiwi kid is going to their local state school, and they’re learning with great teachers who are doing their best, and their best is very good. They have a great relationship with their teachers and with the principal. They have a great relationship with each other. They're having fun and they're learning.  

But if you have children who are particularly bright, or if they are neurodivergent, or if they're incredibly anxious, or if they come from families where education is not a priority, what do you do?  

We've seen falling rates of international achievement, the nonattendance of children in our public schools has reached all-time highs or lows depending on which way you look at it. As a parent, have you looked at alternative forms of education? Homeschooling is up for all sorts of reasons that came out of the COVID-19 years, but it's still starting from a very small base, and homeschooling is not for everyone. It's more a lifestyle than just homeschooling.   

Private schools are prohibitively expensive. We saw a story in the Herald this morning where middle-class families who were looking to upgrade the home are being turned back by the banks because they have too much debt. They've got the private schools and the cars, but they are struggling to meet the payments on the credit cards. It's not just first-home buyers. The religious schools, the integrated religious schools have waiting lists as long as your arm.  

So, what do you do if you feel that the local school is failing your child or grandchild? And I know that we're in an era where every child is special, every child is unique, and every education system needs to cater specifically to that one child, but there are large groups of kids for whom state school doesn't work. And we've seen that both in the falling achievement rates and in the fact they are not turning up for school at all.  

And it is not just kids from families who do not care. They're parents who care very much, but they cannot get their kids to school. I could not imagine how awful the battle would be to try and make your child go to school every single day, and I've heard from parents that they bargain. They barter, they plead, they pay.  

Would an alternative form of education from David Seymour work? Would that be an option for you? We used to have a great education in this country. It was something we were known for and now it is gone. 

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