State school

Pat Newman loves when the Government spends money…on his school


So Hora Hora’s horror and former Labour candidate Pat Newman is delighted that the government has flicked $6.5 million his way.

Whilst I don’t want to upset the concerned Kaikohe residents around their assertion that the Ministry of Education building processes stop local firms from winning contracts, I have to say that is not true. The $6.5 million being spent at Hora Hora School by the Ministry for our rebuild has gone 99 per cent to local firms including the lead contract.

Perhaps the firms missing out need to ask why, and genuinely realise that the requirements are to ensure quality and they may need to up their own processes.

As a person not known for being unduly supportive of many things the Ministry does or doesn’t do, I need in this case to acknowledge their input and advice on our rebuild. On behalf of our kids and community, thank you.

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The perennial hot potato: sex education in schools

It’s an unsolvable problem. Some people feel this is something for the family to do. Others prefer to be left out of it and are quite relieved…ahem…when the state steps in to cover their lack of parenting fortitude.

Religion, culture, whatever the state school systems come up with, you can bet your bottom dollar the majority will be unhappy with it.

And still, we seem to have gotten on just fine over the decades.

Perhaps just hit the high notes and focus on health and safety, then let nature take care of the rest.

The Ministry of Education is offering schools professional development programmes to help teachers deliver sexuality education after a major overhaul of the health curriculum six months ago.

Lesley Hoskin, associate deputy secretary student achievement, said the Ministry worked with sexual health experts, teachers and health professionals to update guidelines to give schools a clearer understanding of what they needed to consider when covering sexuality education.

The revision took into account changing social climates, recent youth health research and broader understandings about sexuality and sexuality education.   Read more »

About time, Hekia comes good on sorting out dud teachers and dud schools

Watch the howls of outrage as the teacher unions gather strength after Hekia Parata’s announcment that she is going after dud schools.

Schools with persistent student underachievement will face a broader range of action from officials, including possible closure, under a proposed revamp of education law.

Education Minister Hekia Parata also wants to reward high-performing schools with much more flexibility in how they plan, and more discretion in the use of funding.

Short of putting in a commissioner or statutory manager, there were limits on what could be done with “floundering” schools, Ms Parata said – particularly if a board or principal was not keen to co-operate.

“Schools that are struggling the most often are the least willing to be helped. They get quite defensive … Unless you strike a principal who has a relationship with the ministry, it is quite hard to go into a school. And a board can tell you to naff off because they are in charge of the school.”

Under wide-ranging proposals for an overhaul of the Education Act 1989, released today in a discussion document, the Ministry of Education could be given power to step in earlier – a “graduated response” that could avoid a more radical intervention later.   Read more »

Oh look, another registered teacher goes down the criminal path

The Labour Party and teacher unions all claim that charter schools are bad because there is no requirement for them to hire only registered teachers.

Apparently being a registered teacher protects kids and the community…except when it doesn’t.

Yet another registered teacher has come before the courts, and this time it wasn’t kiddy fiddling, it was fraud.

A teacher from a top Auckland school has admitted using colleagues’ personal details to swindle more than $67,000.

Ex-Auckland Grammar School economics, accounting and business studies teacher Rafe Callum Fannin, 36, pleaded guilty to 13 charges at Auckland District Court this morning.

Police initially charged Fannin with four counts of dishonestly using driving licences, in the names of people he worked with, to gain a pecuniary advantage.   Read more »

PPTA stuck record singing bullcrap all the way [UPDATED]

With the success that Charter Schools are having with the children that the PPTA and NZEI were failing with – it is understandable that the unions want to avoid further embarrassment.

So when the government do the sensible thing and start planning a few more Charters the PPTA/NZEI go into desperate patch protection and deception mode.

Frankly they have run out of ideas and are floored by the success of the schools – so what is left to say? Back to the old “they are over-funded” violin.

For example, from Angela Roberts of the PPTA;

“But the Post Primary Teachers Association said encouraging results were only because charter schools were better resourced and able to have smaller classes, but that cost is borne by students in public schools.”

Read more »

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.

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 »

PPTA President Loves Education that brings Systemic Failure of the Poor


In a “my job is tough please cry me a river” article PPTA President Angela Roberts closes by stating:

Public education is important for a nation. We have a great system in New Zealand and these challenges come about so we can improve our great curriculum.

So she is happy with:

– many decile 1 & 2 schools getting Year 13 UE pass rates of less than 20% while decile 9 & 10 are almost uniformly above 60%.

– ongoing gaps for Maori and Pasifika compared to the rest of the New Zealand population.   Read more »

PPTA President’s School Highly Funded Compared to Charters

In Saturday’s NZ Herald PPTA President Angela Roberts declared a “broken heart” and “hurt” over a Northland Charter School buying a waka.

This is in keeping with her attempt to protect the PPTA patch against the perceived threat of nine marauding Charter Schools.

She is trying to create the impression that Charter Schools are over-funded. In her PPTA profile Roberts declares herself a teacher of Drama and Economics at Stratford High School.

This school is long established and yet has funding of $8,865.20 per student (over $4.7 million in total – excluding buildings and centralised services).

Four of the nine Charters have got their per student costs below that level already – well within the first two years of their existence. For those schools their annual building costs are included in that figure and well as cashed-up funding for centralised services they don’t receive.   Read more »

What should break the heart of a PPTA President

In Saturday’s NZ Herald PPTA President Angela Roberts announced that a Charter School spending less than her annual salary (and funded from a variety of sources) to buy a Waka for their children to use “breaks my heart” and “hurts”.

What should really break the heart of a PPTA President?

Shouldn’t it be massively funded PPTA staffed schools achieving atrocious results for children that lock them into unemployment and negative social cycles. Shouldn’t it be the huge set of negative differentials in New Zealand for Maori and Pasifika students?

No doubt people are trying hard in these schools but the results should be breaking Roberts’ heart. Here a few examples from State Schools where children need help:

Tamaki College gets $6 million per year (exclusive of buildings and centralised services) but only 44% of their Year 11s get NCEA Level 1 and only 11% of their Year 13s get UE.    Read more »