Alternative education

Charter School investigation: Vanguard Military School Part One

In my new series investigating Vanguard Military School I once again ask the questions and report back the answers without spin. Today’s article is based on my interview with Vanguard chief executive, Nick Hyde.

Vanguard Military school's impressive NCEA results were not included in newspaper article.

Vanguard Military School chief executive Nick Hyde pointing out that Vanguard Military school’s NCEA results were not included in The Herald newspaper article.

Within ten minutes of arriving at Vanguard I had been told the bad news and the good news.

The bad news:

The day before my interview with Nick, The Herald published Auckland schools’ NCEA results and left  Vanguard Military school off the table. Vanguard was the only school out of the approximately 80 schools in Auckland that was left off.

The good news:

Vanguard achieved a 96.2% pass rate at NCEA Level 1 and a 100% pass rate at NCEA Level 2.

Both these results are well above the average for secondary schools across the country and a result like that after only one year of operation is unarguably newsworthy. When the omission was brought to The Herald’s attention they told Nick that it was because they hadn’t been provided with a full set of data. Vanguard confirmed that NZQA who hold all the results had sent them to the Herald. The Herald then updated the table on line to include Vanguard’s results. It was of course far too late for the paper version which had omitted Vanguard’s results from its table.”

Our results put us at 11th in Auckland at level one and 1st equal at level 2. Many people out there in the public domain would have been very keen on seeing our school measured against other schools. I have harped on about trying to make Vanguard a top ten school in Auckland over a five year period. To be 11th after the first year in one area and first equal in another is totally outstanding.

Read more »

Charter schools work and there is proof, let’s see the unions produce some evidence

The National Center for Policy Analysis reports:

In June, 3.3 million American teenagers will graduate from high school. Just 80 percent of them graduate in four years, a share that declines to 65 percent among African-Americans. Yet in the last 40 years, school funding has exploded.

One reason all this spending has not brought better outcomes is that teachers’ unions are more concerned with protecting their members than with helping students.

  • Pay and staffing decisions based on seniority, not skill, do not serve students’ needs and also leave some American public school teachers disillusioned.
  • Charter schools offer many of the same benefits as private schools, since they are free from the stranglehold of teachers’ unions. This leaves them able to experiment with and adopt new education methods, including uniforms and stricter discipline and to attract successful teachers.

Stanford University economics professor Caroline Hoxby found that a student who attended a charter school would close 86 percent of the “Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap” in math and 66 percent in reading. The gap represents the difference in student achievement, measured by test scores, between one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the New York metro area and one of the poorest.  Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Students

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School. -Photo

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School.

When I visited Mt Hobson, South Auckland and West Auckland Middle School my son took the photos and my daughter ( Miss Whaleoil ) interviewed the students. The questions she asked were written by her as I wanted a student’s perspective. Many of her questions were closed yes/no questions unfortunately but she did manage to gain a reasonable snap shot of what the students of all three schools think about their school. ( Mt Hobson is not a Charter school but is the original model on which South and West Auckland Middle school are based.)

Rather than write a question and answer for each individual student interviewed, under each question you will find a range of replies have been labelled A) B) C) etc so you can tell one student’s answers from another ones. Some students were not asked all of the questions.

I have written the students’ replies as they were given, including slang and incomplete sentences.

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Charter Schools Perception Series: The Critics


Partnership Schools or Charter Schools came about after the 2011 General Election due to an agreement between the National Party and the Act Party. The legislation passed with a five vote majority.The Charter School model was criticised by other political parties, educational authorities and teacher organisations as well as some members of the public.

A summary of the key concerns that they raised at that time are below:

1) The concern that that the National-ACT alliance had a hidden agenda which was to set up charter schools as an alternative to state schools in order to eventually replace them.

‘The Government’s plans for charter schools are a stealth privatisation of education’

-Young Labour Press release

One of the Charter schools I visited, Vanguard Military School, includes amongst its students those rejected by the State School system, students who have been expelled or suspended. The other two Charter schools told me that compared to State Schools the number of ex home schooled children on their roll is very high. That indicates to me that the purpose of Charter schools is to provide education for students who are currently not doing well in State education, rather than to replace State education.

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The utter hypocrisy of Su’a William Sio

Su’a William Sio hates Charter Schools, he even speaks against them in parliament.

[C]harter schools are not successful, particularly in reference to minority groups, particularly in reference to low-income groups. They are not successful in the United States. How can we then expect that they are going to be successful here in New Zealand?

Yet he is perfectly happy to attend openings of charter schools, and make speeches at them.

But his hypocritical behaviour gets worse.

In both of his 2011 and 2014 donations returns a Sally Ikinofo has donated a total of $28,200.

ikinofo-2011 Read more »

PPTA will be outraged over this!

The government is spending $298 million on four new schools via a PPP (i.e. a private company is making a profit).

Education Minister Hekia Parata last week signed the $298 million contract with the Future Schools Partners (FSP) consortium to finance, design, construct, and maintain Ormiston Junior College in Auckland, Aranui Community Campus and Rolleston Secondary School in Canterbury and Wakatipu High School in Queenstown.

Eventually this will cover 6000 students and the set up cost equates to $9.83 million per 200 children.

Charter Schools are all charitable and their set-up equates to $1.12 million per 200 children.    Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Advocates Part TWO


Image –

Background: Karen Poole has a B.B.S. (Marketing) and is a Business Manager for the Villa Education Trust with over 25 years administrative and business experience in the education sector. She implements strategy, provides development and compliance, and has worked within a number of education establishments around New Zealand.

TELL me how this all came about and why you wanted to do it?

I am the Business Manager for the Trust so I am in charge of  the resourcing, the teachers, the enrollments, the building facilities. Alwyn will have already discussed with you what his vision was and he does the curriculum and the academic side of it. I help facilitate all that. Mount Hobson Middle School being a private school was obviously where we started, it was the only way to start. Then when the Partnership schools agreement came into force it was an opportunity for us to be able to provide what we do, for other students which was always our aim.

NOTE: Karen and Alwyn are a married couple who sold their home to 
fund Mount Hobson Middle School. 

YOU put a lot on the line at the start, with selling your house.

Yeah we did, but it was something we very much believed in and could see that there was a real need for it and it was just something we wanted to do.

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How Charter Schools do superbly pushing it up hill (with the proverbial rake)

As outlined here Charter Schools have to start on a fraction of a state school funds. They start on approximately $1million set up per 200 students whereas State schools start on up to 5 times that amount per student.

Another huge money State School is making progress towards starting – this time in Hamilton for $40 million dollars.

So…..of the reasons not to start Charter Schools (according to the Left):

– They are expensive. Well clearly they are not.

– The are a failed model overseas. Stanford University says the are fabulous for needy children.   Read more »

Teacher Unions (and the Left’s) Motivation Laid Bare

Recent teacher union protests in the USA make their basic life philosophies clear:

They do not like successful people.

They do not like generosity.

They love tax and spend.

Children come a distant second to protecting their patch.

New York City is the centre of change for Charter Schooling in the USA. Recent Stanford University data is pointing out how well urban children are doing under Charter schools as opposed to traditional public schools – and the unions are hating it.     Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Advocates Part One UPDATED



WHAT is your background in education Alwyn?

I started teaching in 1991. I taught at Tauranga Boys, which is a good school, then did a little time at Hamilton Boys and then taught at Saint Cuthbert’s college. During that time I worked really hard in the background doing some study looking at some other countries. In the end the questions were, what is really good about the New Zealand education system and what could change?

The bottom line is that for the vast majority of children in New Zealand if you place them in year eleven in good shape they will do fine.

Alwyn Poole has a BBS, MEd (Hons), Dip Tchg and a PG Dip Sport Mgt. He is a Principal and Academic Manager.

WHY is there a need for a new Middle School model?

I think one place that we are incredibly remiss in New Zealand is that we don’t ask our Primary School applicants to have a minimum NCEA level of two or three in Maths and a Science therefore we have got a whole heap of Primary teachers who are unable to be strong in those areas.

Children are coming to year seven quite often without a good background in those subjects.

So where do we fall down? The answer is in years seven, eight, nine and ten.

I think for many people Intermediate schooling has done its dash. And the first two years of secondary schooling are under valued and under resourced. You have got bigger classes and you put your less able teachers and you don’t put as much emphasis on it because the Schools are judged on year eleven, twelve and thirteen.

So at that year nine and ten time when the kids really need help developmentally and intellectually to be catered for at their best, is when in our New Zealand education system we choose to give them the least.

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