Charter school

The PPTA responds

On Sunday I sent the following e-mail to Angela Roberts who is the President of the NZ Post Primary Teachers’ Association.

Hello Angela,

I write for Whaleoil Media on the Blog

Today we have posted this article

The article is about a student teacher being refused access to work experience in a school because he is employed by a Charter School. I have recently completed an investigative series of articles on Charter Schools after visiting three of them in Auckland.

Before I write an article in response to today’s piece which was written by Cameron Slater I would like to offer the PPTA the opportunity to explain their side of the story. I will post your response UNEDITED on the Blog.

If you would like to give us your reasoning and justifications please send your reply to this e-mail. Alternatively if you are open to answering a few questions and sending your answers to us please let me know. I will then ask our readership for the questions they want me to put to you.

Kind regards


Angela replied and provided a statement which I have provided unedited below. I appreciate Angela’s prompt response and willingness to give us the PPTA’s side of the story. We welcome alternative viewpoints on the Blog.

If you are a new reader please take the time to view our moderation policy before commenting as we take moderation very seriously here.

Whaleoil will never delete comments from people who disagree based on their view of the facts of a given situation.  However, many such comments also stray into attacking the blog staff, other commenters or other people at the same time.  When such comments are removed, they perceive this as being censored for their views, and not for their behaviour.  Whaleoil encourages everyone to try out commenting with opposing views without at the same time attacking or undermining people or the blog staff, and be pleasantly surprised their comments will remain published.

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PPTA are anti-education in so many ways

You have to wonder about the ethics of the PPTA.

They are bullying a student teacher by blacklisting him because he dares to work at a charter school.

A Northland student is struggling to become a qualified teacher after being forced out of a school placement by a teachers’ union because he works at a charter school.

This is despite the Ministry of Education saying the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) had no authority to make that decision. The student, who did not want to speak publicly, now faces an uncertain future with the possibility of not finishing his studies.

The man started at Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa in Whangarei this year as a teacher. He had a bachelor’s degree and was employed on the proviso he would study towards a post-graduate diploma in teaching through Massey University. But just three days in to his first placement, at Tikipunga High School, he was asked to leave.

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa principal Nathan Matthews said while he knew about the ban, once the student was accepted by the school he thought it would be okay.

“It hit him quite hard,” Mr Matthews said. “He felt like he was being discriminated against.”

The nation-wide ban involved PPTA members, the majority of teachers, limiting and avoiding where possible professional interactions with charter school employees. Tikipunga High School board of trustees chairwoman Veronica Turketo said the school was unaware the student worked at the charter school when it gave him the placement.

“When our members became aware of the student teacher’s employment at the charter school the PPTA position was followed,” she said.

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Charter school investigation: An informal chat with some Vanguard students

Quote on the wall at Vanguard Military school

Quote on the wall at Vanguard Military school

When visiting Vanguard Military school I was given the opportunity to sit around an oval table with a group of students to informally chat with them about themselves and their experiences at Vanguard.

At the end of our discussion they all shook my hand and looked me in the eye before leaving the room.

I have reported the conversation in the way that it happened. Whenever there is a break between comments, that indicates a new person speaking. I have chosen to take out the names of other schools that the students referred to and have replaced their names with the words, ‘my old school’ as this article is about Vanguard not other schools.

How did you come to be at this school?

I came from ‘my old school’,  progressing to this because it is more academic. I wanted to get my level 2 and level 3.

I came from ‘my old school’. I didn’t like my old school even though I lived five minutes away I never showed up or if I did show up I would show up for like P.E and go home. I found out about Vanguard through the Defence Force when I was applying. They referred me to Vanguard. Through that I’ve passed my NZ Defence Force fitness and aptitude test through Vanguard.

I heard about the school through a mate’s Mum. She recommended it to me. I was going to ‘my old school’ in Ellerslie and I wasn’t doing so well.

Why not?

I wasn’t focussed, couldn’t study, didn’t like it and now I come here I’m just pretty good, I like it and I’m passing everything so it’s pretty cool.

How do you find the discipline?

It’s good it really does show through outside of school.

I came from ‘my old school’ and at ‘my old school’ I was like really bad. I hanged out with the bad people. I found out about this school from my best friend she is here too.

Vanguard Military School students saying the school pledge PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page

Vanguard Military School students saying the school pledge
PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page

How do you find the discipline? Do you find it hard following the rules here?

Yeah in the beginning but it has really helped me become a better person.

I heard about the school at Ellerslie when Staff Hyde came in to introduce it. I went to ‘my old school’ in the Northern Territory of Australia before this. So I moved from Australia to get a better education here at Vanguard.

I came from ‘my old school’ and my parents heard about it on the radio. To be honest at first I wasn’t really keen on Military school. I wasn’t doing so well at school but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t really care what I got. But now coming here and seeing what I can do, going back there is not an option for me. I don’t want to ever be there again, like settle for something less that I actually can be.

Did your parents make you come?

Yeah my parents made me come.

So what was the first month like for you? Did you rebel?

No, I actually enjoyed it. The people here just changed my attitude and everything. There is more like Peers influencing me to change my style.


I am interested in knowing how bullying if it exists in the school, is dealt with?

I don’t think that we have major cases of bullying here because we are taught as we start this school that we are all the same. You know we all start, you don’t get a uniform until you earn it so everyone is kinda on the same level. Then you are put into different Sections which are your classes with a leader. So they kinda force you to work together so bullying doesn’t really affect us that much and if it does there is such big consequences for that from the teachers and things but it is just not really heard of.

Have any of you experienced bullying at your previous schools?

Yeah I did. I didn’t wear glasses at my previous school because I got called four eyes but when I came here no one has said anything. Cause I really needed glasses because my eyesight is really bad, I couldn’t see in class.

I got bullied quite a bit at Intermediate at Year 8. It got so bad that Mum said walk home if anybody says anything about you and stuff. Just some of the girls were like really horrible like I found notes in my desk and my shoes, they would hide my shoes so I couldn’t do P.E. It got really bad.

Did the teachers do anything or did you say anything?

Yeah I did. I wrote a letter to the teachers but it never really got dealt with and that’s when Mum was like if anything happens just walk home.You don’t have to tell your teachers, just come home. That was really bad.

What is one thing you like about Vanguard and what is one thing you do not like or have found difficult?

Getting up at 5.30am cause I just lived…  ‘my old school’ was walking distance of 3, 4, 5 minutes. I would just wake up at like 8 o’clock. Here I have to wake up at like 5.30am to get to school.

Sleeping teenage boy PHOTO-

Sleeping teenage boy

That is real dedication. You are a teenager. Teenagers like to sleep.

Yeah, I love my sleep but also I love coming here that’s why I get up so early. I wouldn’t do that for my old school. I wouldn’t do that.

I’d have to say the consistency of school, they demand 100% attendance whereas at my old school I would come like one day every two weeks. It’s hard but I do love coming here. The thing that I do like about this school is P.E and P.T because it makes you fitter, faster, stronger.

Vanguard students playing basketball. PHOTO- Vanguard Military School facebook page

Vanguard students playing basketball.
PHOTO- Vanguard Military School facebook page

One thing I do enjoy is that everyone tries here so when you do P.E and all that no one’s saying,” I don’t want to touch the ball.” Everyone’s going hard out like, ” Get the ball!” (sound of all the students laughing. ) The teachers really challenge you here. It is really good.

Image from an American Military Movie PHOTO-

Image from an American Military Movie

How much is it really like the Military? Do they speak to you differently? You see in the American movies the Sergeant  is in their face yelling. Is it like that for P.T?

Yeah for P.T it is but  not in the classroom.

Sometimes it is a bit confusing but it is like a balance between Military and school. Always during P.T there will be screaming. I think that is something all of us had to adjust to once we started Military school as the seriousness of P.T and things like that but it is never anything overboard. We learn not to muck around serious times but when it is like class time, the teacher that is going to teach you English isn’t going to scream at you. In saying that I think it is kinda good because we still have got that Military discipline so that it is easier for the teachers to teach teenagers really.

What kind of consequences and punishments do you have?

C.T. (Corrective Training ), burpees sometimes. Up downs, sometimes. You lie flat on the ground then jump back up again. You have to do it constantly it’s tiring.



Another one is C.T. so if you get in trouble for doing something the teacher will issue with a C.T. One C.T. is worth 10 minutes after school. It is so boring. Mind numbing.

A C.T. means standing at attention for the first 10 minutes and any time after that it is at ease.

We also have community service punishment for the baddies which is done during the holidays. They bring you in and if you don’t do your community service then you get another community service.

At this point in our discussion CEO Nick told me that the students needed to return to class so I had to bring our informal chat to a close. If you would like to learn more about what the students think of their school you can read my other article here.

This is the final article in my Investigation into Charter Schools where I asked the questions and reported back on the answers after visiting Hobson Middle School, West Auckland Middle School, South Auckland Middle school and Vanguard Military School.

If any State school or Charter school would like me to visit them they are welcome to contact me via the blog. If the PPTA would like the same opportunity I would be very happy to meet with them as well. Just as I have with the schools I have visited so far I will do everyone the courtesy of sending them the questions I will be asking before I visit. I am not about putting people on the spot or trying to catch people out with surprise questions. I am about finding the answers to our readers’ questions and my own.

I am even prepared to answer any questions that the PPTA or schools may have of me on the understanding that I will be free to publish their questions and my answers on this Blog as they will likewise be free to use my answers in their publications.

Next Saturday I will publish an opinion piece (Editorial) about Charter Schools.

Imagine the outcry if these incidents happened at a Charter School?

The Labour party and teacher unions always bang on about teacher registration being vitally important for the safety of children. It is the major reason they oppose charter schools.

If a single teacher at a charter school has problems they are immediately calling for the cancellation of the programme.

But when, almost daily, ratbag teachers are hauled before the disciplinary tribunal or the courts there is total and utter silence.

Even drug dealing ratbag teachers and principals.

A Northland school teacher has been censured and deregistered after he was convicted for cultivating, possessing and supplying cannabis.

Mario Cachia, 49, was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention for possessing cannabis for the purpose of sale, selling cannabis and cultivating cannabis.

He had pleaded guilty when he appeared in Whangarei District Court in November.

The New Zealand Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal has now deregistered him after Cachia agreed his convictions were serious and warranted an adverse finding. Cachia is among seven teachers in Northland who were convicted of offences such as drugs and dishonesty in 2014.

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Just how much is Kirsty Johnston in the PPTA’s pocket?


As the PPTA try all manner of whinging strategies and attempt to get public support for a bargaining round with government, they have found a best friend at the Herald.

Today they have an article stating there are teaching shortages looming – only 5 people are applying for each job.

Where there are specific subject shortages, the PPTA won’t acknowledge that it is their fault as they insist on a national collective contract. Which of course means that people with extra knowledge and skills cannot negotiate an individual contract to help make teaching worthwhile for them. The PPTA’s collective bargaining keeps many great people out of the field – and NZ’s children suffer because of it. Their opposition to bulk funding exacerbates all of this.    Read more »

Tracey Martin solves all of New Zealand’s qualification problems in one statement

While trying to be critical of Vanguard School Tracey Martin not only solves all of NZ’s education problems but also bags just about every secondary school in the nation.

Nothing else is required to get every child passing – you just have to really want to make it happen…no joke…this is her quote (from 2:1o in the audio):

 “It is not that difficult to get a NCEA 100% pass rate if you really want to make it happen.”

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More on Northland College

Given that the PPTA bang on that Charter Schools in their first year should shut down if they are a few places below a predicted roll for the end of year two – shouldn’t they be seeking a Northland College shut-down given that it is 710 places below its maximum roll?

A good question. Back in 2013 they were looking to the principal to turn things around.

A new principal signals a turning point for Northland College.

Students returning from holidays will be greeted by newly appointed Jim Luders, from Whangarei.

The college has long been seen as a bellwether for the community and the man who was installed to steer it out of a decline says it is on the right track as students head into holidays.

Commissioner Chris Saunders says the appointment of a new head, construction on the campus and an increased roll all indicate progress.   Read more »

Charter School investigation: The teachers


Engineering class room, Students and teacher at Vanguard Military school

Here we have staff who give up their lunch times, their morning teas, they work what used to be their holidays. Why? Because we want the students to achieve. That is the carrot. It is not anything personal, it is a rewarding job to have but it is to see the kids that are struggling get across the line.

-Nick Hyde Vanguard Military School chief executive

The teachers at Vanguard were not put into their classrooms immediately after being hired. They were trained for a term before they were allowed to teach their classes solo. This was to ensure that they knew all of Vanguard’s rules and ways of doing things so that their approach to student teaching and management would always be consistent. Additionally the selection of teachers was not solely based on their academic and teaching ability. They also had to be supportive of the Military model concept as they had to not only follow the model but be role models themselves in how they present themselves and act.

Seven teachers answered my questions at Vanguard Military school so I have included a selection of  the most interesting responses to my questions.

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Another biased reporter shows her true colours via Twitter

David Farrar takes a break from arthouse play reviews to call out a NZ Herald reporter.


There’re three interesting things about this exchange.

  1. Portraying charter schools as exploiting vulnerable kids, rather than helping them
  2. Portraying charter schools as people making money. As far as I know every charter school operator in NZ is a not-for-profit entity
  3. The tweeter is the ’s specialist education reporter

If you were a charter school operator, teacher or parent what confidence would you have that the Herald will report fairly on your school, when the reporter seems to have such a negative view of them.

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Charter School Investigation: Vanguard Military School Part Two

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 the second part of my interview with Vanguard chief executive, Nick Hyde as well as a shorter interview with Vanguard Principal, Rockley Montgomery.

A hand up. PHOTO: Vanguard Military School Facebook Page

A hand up.
PHOTO: Vanguard Military School Facebook Page

One of the criticisms is that you are stealing students away from other schools. Luring them with free uniforms et cetera but some of your students are ones that State schools have given up on anyway.

They have failed there already. Would you keep your child in a school where they had just failed? We have kids travel from Waiuku South. They are making a conscious choice to come here. It is not the lure of uniforms and things like that it is the environment we are giving them. It’s the fact that if your son or daughter doesn’t turn up by 8.30am we have rung you to ask why. We are monitoring everything. It is an ‘Old School’ mentality. You are not suddenly going to find out that your son or daughter has skipped three weeks of classes, you are going to know on day one.


A board in the Staffroom records all absences as well as the reason for absence at Vanguard Military School.

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