General policy statement
This Bill aims to restore transparency in New Zealand’s education system by ensuring that partnership schools kura hourua (
“charter schools”) are subject to the same level of public scrutiny as existing state schools. Charter schools are exempt from the provisions of the Official Information Act 1982, despite being government funded.
This Bill seeks to bring charter schools under the provisions of the Official Information Act 1982 and the Ombudsmen Act 1975 so that they can be held accountable for their use of public funds. In doing so, it brings the legislation into line with the recommendations of the Ombudsmen. The ability to request information under Official Information Act 1982 also provides parents and communities with important oversight of charter school operations and the ability to hold them to account for the quality education of children.
Exempting charter schools from the Official Information Act 1982 does nothing to improve the quality of education provided to students. Instead, it risks poor quality education being covered up and action for improvement delayed.
The lack of transparency appears to be motivated by a desire to protect private and commercial interests. The Labour Party does not support a system that puts profit before kids and the interests of the community. And it is not alone. Allowing charter school sponsors to profit from the public funds provided for the education of our young people is not supported by the majority of New Zealanders.
The Bill is an omnibus Bill introduced by virtue of Standing Order 263(a). It is intended that the Bill will be divided into separate Bills at the committee of the whole House stage.