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First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


The great risk in trying something new is that you will fail.

That’s a risk that affects policy programs too, where even a perception of failure can start to ring the death knell.

One program under this kind of scrutiny is New Zealand’s Partnership School Kura Hourua (PSKH) scheme. PSKHs are publicly-funded free schools, like United States charter schools, whose purpose is to provide an alternative education to regular state schooling for pupils at high risk of poor outcomes, including Maori, Pasifika and special needs pupils.

Since opening at the beginning of the 2014 school year, the schools have attracted much criticism. The nature of that criticism shows why it is important for social science to inform debates about policy and politics so that programs can be meaningfully evaluated, and decisions about whether they are effective based on reasonable evidence.

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