Unpacking the initial development of New Zealand’s charter schools

Bill Courtney


One of the National-led Government’s main educational reforms has been the development of charter schools, which they chose to call Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua. This article concentrates on the initial development of the New Zealand charter school model from December 2011 to September 2013. It looks at the coalition agreement, Cabinet papers, officials’ advice from the Ministry of Education and Treasury and responses to requests under the Official Information Act. The article also looks briefly at the international context and how the international discourses of choice underpinning charter schools have been translated and taken up in New Zealand. Despite being small in number, the development of New Zealand charter schools has been highly contentious, both because of the international experience with charter schools and the questionable ways in which the New Zealand model of charter schools initially took shape and was implemented over subsequent years. Overall, the article questions whether there was any genuine evidence to support the introduction of the charter school concept into the New Zealand school system.


Charter schools; partnership schools; New Zealand

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v22i1.559


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015