The Government's new charter schools look likely to include under-5s.
Applications from education providers who want to open up charter schools next year are currently being considered by Education Minister Hekia Parata and this includes an option for charter schools to cater for 0-8 year olds.
Before accepting children under the age of 5 years a charter school would need to apply for, and be granted, a licence to operate an early childhood service. Any school would be operating illegally under current law if it did not.
But should the Minister give the green light to a charter school to have 3 or more children under the age of 5 years and exempt it from complying with the Education (Early Childhood) Regulations and criteria, other organisations and current education providers could demand similar exemptions and argue discrimination if requests are not approved.
Opposition parties are critical of the plan to allow charter schools to have babies and pre-schoolers. Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says charter schools are "outcomes based" and babies could be measured against each other using some form of national standards. Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins is concerned about a lack of regulation at charter schools.
NZEI President Judith Nowotarski says charter schools are not required to hire trained teachers: "Even the current minimum requirement of 50% trained teachers in early childhood centres could possibly be side-stepped by charter school providers in pursuit of profits."
So what do people think about Charter Schools for 0 - 8 year olds? Here are some of the reactions:
- This is insane! I'm pretty sure you can't find too much info out there to state that assessing small children against unit standards increases their social, emotional and cognitive development.
- If your child is not walking at 12 months does that mean they have failed?
- We have had charter early childhood education for many years - it is just called corporate childcare and is run by big business.
- There are early childhood centres already that are traditional curriculum and outcomes based.
- Will charter schools be allowed to have their own curriculum with a more formal learning style? If not then they could open as a private centre and follow Te Whāriki.
- We are not going to be seeing any outcomes-based programmes for infants or toddlers. Since the government wants evidence-based, best practice, researched ECE it will know that the brain-research shows that relationships, above all else, are the most important thing in the early years.
- Charter schools often focus on the most vulnerable and low socio-economic children. The ones that need more real life -get out there in the community experiences (the ones that have never been to the beach, the zoo, rolled down a hill, touched snow, cooked marshmallows over a fire, etc ...) and they will be sat down and drilled on the tests that will be given to them.