Investigations are under way to determine interest in
establishing a charter school in Dunedin, despite the
educational model being criticised by educational groups
Dunedin educator Sarah Hjertquist has launched an initiative
to gauge interest within the Dunedin community for
establishing a new primary school along the lines of
Discovery 1 in Christchurch.
Discovery 1 was a special-character, state-funded primary
school which provided an innovative learning environment
where children, parents and staff had an active part in the
creation of a child's learning journey, Mrs Hjertquist said.
The learning journey of children at Discovery 1 was a
responsibility shared by the child, the family, the community
and the school, she said.
The Government recently called for expressions of interest
from anyone interested in establishing a charter school.
Charter schools have come under fire from New Zealand
teachers' unions who believe they are a symptom of the
Government's Global Education Reform Plan which would allow
unqualified people to teach, companies to make a profit from
schools and for power to be taken away from local communities
in the running of their schools.
The New Zealand Educational Institute and the Post Primary
Teachers' Association believed the schools were a failed
ideological experiment from overseas.
Mrs Hjertquist disagreed.
She said her background was in early childhood and adult
education, and she co-ordinates the Supporting Parents
Alongside Children's Education (Space) programme under the
umbrella of the Otago Playcentre Association.
Eight years ago she set up the Creatability Club for gifted
children and is president of the Otago Association for Gifted
Children where, she said, she had helped bring educational
opportunities to Dunedin for teachers, parents and children.
Dunedin provided various different services and philosophies
within early childhood education, and for a while now, it had
been apparent to her and others that there were more
possibilities and potential for alternatives at the primary
school level in Dunedin. She said it was time to see what the
community thought of the idea.
''The group is considering a range of different
possibilities, including how such a school might be funded
and supported, in order to create a sustainable and
forward-thinking model that delivers a real point of
difference in the education of children.''
Mrs Hjertquist was unable to provide further details, but
said the aim was to establish a school providing an
alternative learning experience.