WelCom February 2021
Dr Kevin Shore, Chief Executive, NZCEO
In late 2019, the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins announced a $400-million fund for state schools to support them to carry out maintenance work. Unfortunately, state integrated schools were not included in this funding policy commitment to maintain state integrated schools to an equivalent standard to a similar state school.
As part of the integration agreement the Minister of Education is required to maintain state integrated schools to the same standard as a state school. The Minister’s decision to exclude state integrated schools from this funding provision was seen by the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO) and the Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools (APIS) as a clear breach of the agreement and a breach of the Human Rights Act, when children in faith-based schools are not funded in the same manner as children in state schools.
After negotiating in good faith for nearly a year the Minister of Education advised in September 2020 that while he was sympathetic to the claim the Government did not have the funds to make the payment. We made a request under the Official Information Act for all the documents between the Ministry of Education and the Minister and we could see the Ministry had negotiated in good faith and recommended the settlement we had worked towards.
Following the general election last October and the confirmation of the re-appointment of the Minister, NZCEO filed papers in the High Court for a judicial review of the decision. The process is now before the courts.
No further comment will be made while the Minister and APIS work to resolve the issue either by negotiation or through the court.
APIS and NZCEO understand the level of frustration of our Proprietors, boards, and schools but we also appreciate the level of support from our sector to take this matter through the courts. The Office is also appreciative of the support of other education sector leaders who understand and appreciate our concerns. We particularly note the commitment of NZEI to support our claim as a matter of justice.
Paul Ferris who is acting on behalf of NZCEO in this matter is hopeful of a resolution and will update progress as and when we are free to make comment.