Media Releases

OIA shows the eyewatering true cost of charter schools

14 Feb 2024

The National and ACT experiment with charter schools that ran from 2014 to 2018 cost up to $48,421 per student annually, more than six times the average funding spent on students in state schools, new OIA documents released to NZEI Te Riu Roa show.

When adjusted for inflation, that is more than $60,000 per student in today’s money. In comparison today, public schools are funded at around $9,000 per student.

The total cost to taxpayers of the failed charter school experiment was more than $125 million.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter says trying to revive the failed initiative of charter schools makes no sense.

"It is absurd that the Government is even thinking about reintroducing this failed and highly expensive policy at the same time as they are backtracking on vital school building projects that put a roof over the heads of our akonga.

"Charter schools are a proven waste of taxpayer money. Schools need funding directed to areas where systemic change is sorely needed, such as learning support and smaller class sizes, rather than wasting public money experimenting with charter schools. That money would be much better spent on initiatives that benefit all students, such as a teacher aide in every classroom, or timely learning support interventions."

The documents also show the huge bureaucratic burden charter schools put on the Ministry of Education, with nearly 30% of the cost (over $35m) being departmental, back-office spending.