Northland's Te Kura Hourua o Whangaruru facing axe

By Ripeka Timutimu

Education Minister Hekia Parata may close the doors on a Charter School, which has cost the taxpayer around $4.8 million.  

Parata advised the Ngā Parirau Mātauranga Charitable Trust that she proposes to terminate the agreement under which it runs Te Kura Hourua o Whangaruru.

Labour Party MP Jenny Salesa says they've been set up to fail and Hekia Parata is to blame.

“The Minister, instead of closing them down in July, she funded them another $129,000 and so, first of all, Hekia Parata, the Minister of Education, is at fault,” explained Salesa.

The School and the Minister were unavailable for comment on camera, but Te Kāea understands that if the School closes, the Ministry will seek to recover any unused funding, or available assets, through a commercial negotiation process. This could include an 81 hectare farm purchased by the Trust.

“That’s $4.8 million, nearly $5 million of taxpayers' money, that has been invested in a very expensive experiment that the current government is supporting”, says Salesa.

In February this year, Parata issued the School with a performance notice addressing serious concerns at the School. However, after an audit in October, issues still remained around the quality of teaching and the curriculum provided to students.

The current roll of the School is 36 and, if a decision is made to close it, the Ministry will help the School’s students to transition to other education options and provide practical support to students and whānau.

“Ultimately, it’s the students, it’s our children at Whangaruru Charter School that are suffering. They are really the ultimate victims in this Charter School closure,” says Salesa.

The Board now has until 15 January 2016 to provide the Minister with feedback on her proposal to terminate the Partnership Schools Agreement on March 7.