[Sitting date: 18 October 2012. Volume:684;Page:5984. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the
Minister of Education: Does she stand by her statement to schools, about their obligation under the Official Information Act 1982, that, “New Zealand is an open and transparent democracy. They [schools] are required to release this information. You are public entities.”?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Deputy Leader of the House)
on behalf of the
Minister of Education: Yes.
Catherine Delahunty: Under her Education Amendment Bill, will charter or partnership schools be part of New Zealand’s open and transparent democracy?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Yes.
Catherine Delahunty: Will charter schools be required to publicly release all the information that State schools are currently required to, under the Official Information Act, such as annual reports and details of staffing; if not, why not?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: We have covered this issue earlier on in the House. Partnership schools will not be subject to the Official Information Act. However, they will have a legally binding contract that sets for them specific performance criteria, they will be reviewed by the Education Review Office, and they will have to report against national standards.
Catherine Delahunty: Will parents of charter school pupils have the rights of other parents, including the automatic right to attend governing body meetings, a say on the appointment of their principal, and the right to complain to the Ombudsman if they think their child has been unfairly treated; if not, how is that consistent with an open and transparent democracy?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Firstly, I would say that partnership schools will not be Crown entities, and therefore they will not be subject to the Official Information Act, but the Privacy Act will apply. Secondly, I would say to that member that parents have a choice as to which school they decide to send their child to.
Catherine Delahunty: By legislating for a separate standard at profit-making charter schools so that they can operate in secrecy that would be illegal in the State sector, does she agree that she is exposing hundreds of children to an unacceptable level of risk?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: No. This Government is determined that the one in five children whom the previous Labour Government was for 9 years content to see leaving school without the necessary education will get every opportunity to succeed educationally, and we believe that partnership schools have a role—
Catherine Delahunty: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a question about the operation of the charter schools—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister answered absolutely. The Minister said “No.” She was going on to explain a little more than perhaps was necessary, but she answered the question very emphatically.