Destiny interested in charter school

New Zealand Herald/July 28, 2012

Destiny Church is among a number of religious groups that have shown interest in running one of the Government's new charter schools.

Other groups that have expressed an interest include a United States-based profit-making school chain, the New Zealand chapter of the Maharishi Foundation, which practises transcendental meditation, trustees of the former Maori schools St Stephen's and Queen Victoria, and Victoria University.

Associate Education Minister and Act Party leader John Banks listed 18 organisations in answer to a parliamentary question from the Green Party about who had expressed an interest to him in running or being involved with running a charter school.

The Greens are concerned that the charter school system will allow public money to be used to promote religious interests in schools and that employment and curriculum standards will be lowered.

Destiny - run by Bishop Brian Tamaki - already operates a bilingual pre-school and a composite primary and secondary school of 190 pupils at Mt Wellington.

Richie Lewis of Destiny said the school would be moving to Wiri at the end of the year when the church shifted its operations there.

Destiny's plan was to expand the school, particularly for Maori and Pacific children in South Auckland.

"My inquiry many months ago with Mr Banks was simply to gather information about charter schooling and the Government's plans in that direction, particularly for South Auckland," Mr Lewis told the Weekend Herald.

"We have not received or made any kind of charter school application."

The Government has not yet called for formal expressions of interest.

That is expected to happen next year after the Cabinet has okayed the blueprint for the schools and legislation has been passed.

The first schools will be approved next year to get under way in 2014.

The establishment of charter schools was part of the coalition agreement between the minority National Government and Act's sole MP, and it allows for profit-making schools. The plan was in neither party's manifesto.

The agreement envisages that existing schools could be designated charter schools or new ones set up.

It also envisages that they could typically be faith-based and/or have a rigorous academic focus and/or be based on a target population.

They will be state-funded but are expected to have greater freedom on employment matters, the curriculum, governance models and operational management.

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