11 Feb 2018

Charter school protest: 'This ain't anywhere near the end of this'

6:35 pm on 11 February 2018

More than 100 people have braved Auckland's bad weather to protest against the possible closure of charter schools.

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Act Party leader David Seymour with protesters in Auckland today. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

The government hopes to prevent new charter schools opening, and existing ones could be shut by the end of the year, after the Education Minister said he wanted an early end to their contracts.

Students, parents, and teachers gathered in Auckland's CBD to protest this afternoon, marching from Britomart up Queen Street to Aotea Square to show their support for the system and protest against the government's plans.

The rally was organised by the Act Party, which championed charter schools under the previous government.

Melissa Carr's son, 15, attends Vanguard Military in Albany. She was out waving a placard saying 'Save our Schools'.

"He's only been at the school three weeks and he's already thriving and dreaming big."

Staff believed in the children and encouraged them to believe in themselves, she said.

"These kids don't fit into the mainstream environment so why take this opportunity away from them? It's not costing any more for these children than at a public school, we're not costing the government anymore and why let them miss out on opportunities that they need?"

Closing the schools down would be a massive loss, Ms Carr said.

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Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Act Party leader David Seymour said the government needed to look at its position because they had "not calculated this one right".

"The fact that we got these numbers in this weather shows just how strong the feeling is for these schools.

"Kids who are at a school because they want to be, because their old school wasn't working for them - no matter how good it may have been for other students ... are now going to be forced back, assimilated into the system they tried to get away from - that's just wrong."

Mr Seymour said he planned to present a petition to parliament in the next few months.

"This ain't anywhere near the end of this."

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