Charter School Investigation: Vanguard Military School – the students

Student comment on Vanguard Military school's facebook page.

Student comment on Vanguard Military school’s facebook page.

The students of Vanguard have strong feelings about their school. I will let their own words tell you just what they think of Vanguard Military School and whether or not it is a system that works for them.


Vanguard Military school students

Do you prefer this school to other schools you’ve been to?

If yes why? If no why not?

Yes because I actually learn things and I can excel in my subjects. It’s more disciplined and I like P.T

Yes, because it is strict which keeps your mind set in place.

Yes, because I want to join the forces and this school being a Military Prep School provides a great basis/foundation for my career in the near future.

A student from Vanguard Military School is accepted into the Navy. PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page

An ex student from Vanguard Military School who has completed his basic training for the Navy. PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page

Because I am doing so much better at this school and I feel like I kinda fit in here also I feel like people care if I’m passing and want to help me pass.

Yes because I am starting to be more responsible and getting taught more discipline.

Because it provides me with the discipline to succeed.

Yes because I am actually learning things and I feel like I have a purpose.

*NOTE Out of 23 responses not one student responded no.

Gun  Drill at Vanguard Military School PHOTO- Vanguard Military school Facebook page

Target practice at Vanguard Military School
PHOTO- Vanguard Military school Facebook page

Is there anything you’ve learned here that you didn’t learn at other schools?

  • Discipline
  • Drill, marching, advanced rifle drill.
  • Drill, Self discipline
  • Respect,discipline,drill, life lessons.
  • Being responsible and disciplined. Also to follow the rules.
  • Maths,P.T, P.E
  • Marching, self discipline, respect
  • Science, discipline

Yes I’ve learned new techniques not only in P.E and P.T but also in English and Maths. I’ve also built more knowledge around those subjects.

I learned my timetables here. I also learned discipline here and how to have pride in myself. Respect for others and to always put in 100%

Yes, I couldn’t write essays or do Maths equations plus more. I didn’t speak proper English ( slang ) and Vanguard has taught me to speak formally.


Vanguard Military Canteen which is run by the students for the students. Each Section takes its turn preparing the food and serving.

At Vanguard breakfast is provided free to the students, many of whom have got up very early in the morning and travelled a long distance in order to attend school. The free breakfast is provided by Sanitarium and Fonterra but the school then extends the food for morning tea and lunch.The school canteen is run by the students for the students as each Section takes its turn on the roster to prepare and serve the food. Students are learning food preparation and cooking and hygiene skills at the same time as customer service skills.

What do you like about this school? What don’t you like about this school?

I like that everyone is treated the same and everyone knows each other and they make the extra effort to talk to you. There is nothing I don’t like about this school. Everything is good.

I like the free breakfast and education and uniform. I like that we do P.T every day and all the staff try their hardest to help us. I don’t like that students interrupt other peoples learning and there isn’t any time for potential leaders to flourish.

I like the atmosphere of the school environment and the way they run the school. I don’t like that it is the end of term two and there’s still some recruits that are playing up and that Staff Mueller left.

I like that Vanguard is my second family. I like the games we play eg Intersection competition and P.E also Drill that builds discipline and obedience. No dislikes yet.

I like how everyone is family and that everyone feels comfortable in the environment.

I like the staff and people and how much most people and staff care about you.

I don’t like that it is not big enough with no fields.

I thought it was going to be hardcore. It is in a way but kick back if you follow the rules.

I like that that the students are cool but I don’t like that I feel that some staff here dislike me.

I like the discipline and how it is strict so you don’t have any distractions. I don’t like the CT system.

I like the focused curriculum. I don’t like a distracting class environment.

I like the Military Ethos. I don’t like people playing up in class constantly.

I like how it supports teamwork. Some staff can be very nitpicky and pick us up on the smallest things.

How long have you been here? If new what are your first impressions?

8 weeks 2 days and my first impression was that it was going to be hard but fun.

I started this year and straight away when the first words the Staff spoke to the school I knew it was going to be different and better than all my other schools.

Just starting this year and felt like I wanted to be there and had a good feeling about it.

First year at Vanguard. My first impression was why am I here? But it actually turned out to be better than I expected.

One term. My first impression was this school really fits the criteria for me and I want to stay here until I leave.

I started 2014 at year 11. I loved it although there isn’t much time guidance and we need to have harder C.Ts.

Two months, very good because of how the teachers treat the students.

This is my first year at Vanguard, they welcomed me with open arms which made me feel welcome.

Since you have been here have your grades improved?

*NOTE 21 of the 23 students responded yes to this question.

Yes because before I only got, Not Achieved or an Achievement, barely and now I know that with hard work and the major help from all the staff I now get Excellence and Merit as my grades.

They’re slowly improving but it’s still only the beginning.

I don’t know but I know more that I did last year.

Don’t know yet

Vanguard Military school students. PHOTO-Vanguard Military School Facebook page

Vanguard Military school students.
PHOTO-Vanguard Military School Facebook page

Would you recommend this school to a friend?

Yes, but only to a friend that I knew it would be good for.


Yes I’m already trying to get friends here.

I’m already trying to get one of my best friends to come.

Yes. My friend came with me to Vanguard this year and my other friend wants to come.

Yes although this is a school you choose for yourself. I mean all the staff try to help all the students the best they can, but I wouldn’t like to see my friends take advantage of my Staff and school in a bad way.

Yes and I have before.

For sure, this school has so much to offer, it’s just a matter of accepting the challenges along the way.

*NOTE  22 of the 23 students responded yes to this question.
One student responded, ' maybe.'
Vanguard Military School Students. PHOTO- Vanguard Military School Facebook page

Vanguard Military School Students.
PHOTO- Vanguard Military School Facebook page

 Did your parents decide to send you here or did you have a choice in the matter?

  • It was a bit of both but I’m glad I chose to attend Vanguard.
  • It was mutual x 2
  • I had a choice x 9
  • I chose this school for myself because I didn’t want to be on WINS for the rest of my life smoking pot every day.
  • I chose to come here on my own account.
  • I decided to come here myself and my parents agreed with my decision.
  • My parents suggested the school then I got to decide.
  • Both, mainly my parents though.
  • Parents sent me because of my sister.
  • My parents but I also wanted to.
  • I chose it’s good.
  • It was my choice Dad didn’t want me to go.
  • I decided.
  • Grandparents suggested it to me and it was my last resort.

How did you find out about this school?

  • Grandparents.
  • Through the NZDF
  • Friends x 3
  • Internet x 2
  • I went to ATC
  • Mum
  • From my Dad
  • Through people talking
  • Mum and Radio
  • On the Radio last year x 3
  • My Aunty
  • My sister came here last year and she recommended this school to me.
  • The Radio and a friend of my Mums.
  • I found out about this school when I did the LSV course and I decided I wanted to come back to school.
  • Friends and newspapers
  • Through a friend and on the radio
  • My mate got accepted and put it on facebook and so I checked it out.
  • Through family who are also attending Vanguard.
  • I don’t know.

Are the teachers nice?

Yes x 5

They are teachers who mirror your attitude. If you are nice to them they are nice to you. Same if you are negative towards them.

Yes, they are nice when they need to be and strict when required.

Yes, because they want to teach us and they see that we want to learn.

Yes they are great. Although their many different ways of teaching often lead to inconsistent discipline as a school. They provide experience on how to handle different employers for future employment.

Yes, because they’re always there for you and you form a different kind of relationship with them than you would at other schools. It feels like they’re just another one of your mates.

Most teachers are nice. The other teachers aren’t so bad but it is okay because they’re not angry all the time.

Yes I can tell they respect me. They also give me lots of help.

Yes, because they have humanity, enthusiasm, personality and patience.

Yes they are but not when it’s serious like in the corridor.

Yes, I enjoy having staff which I can joke around with every now and then. They are also very supportive.

Yes, because they are always there for me and support me.

  • Yes, because they are easy to talk to and are caring.
  • They are good because they help all the time.
  • Sometimes not all the time.
  • Most of them are nice but some are not nice.
  • Yes, they care about us and our education.
  • Yes, they are welcoming and teach us the way we learn best.
  • Yes because they are friendly and are willing to take time out of their own for a student.
  • Vanguard Military School students

    Vanguard Military School students

Have you ever been bullied here?

No x 18

Yes x 3

Well no because I’ve actually built a real tight friendship/family bond between the students.

Yes it made me feel very small and scared to come to school and it affected my confidence a bit.  * Student ( A )

How do teachers deal with bullying?

  • I don’t know x 7
  • With CTs x 3

CT stands for corrective training.  CEO Nick Hyde says it can range from standing at ease in the hangar for 10 minutes of their time once school is dismissed so they recognise that their actions have consequences for themselves or it may involve having to continue doing academic work after school.  The CT system is a gradual build up.  The first 5 a student does are  10 minutes each.  Once they accumulate 5  the parents are contacted and informed that their child is moving up the CT scale.  If it becomes a persistent problem as time increases, it can become a charge or community service where the student must return and work a day or two for a community group that needs some help.

They have zero tolerance for it and deal with it very seriously

I haven’t seen any bullying so I don’t know what they do.

With difficulty especially with certain people but eventually it is dealt with* Student ( A )

I don’t know I haven’t seen it happen which makes me believe that they probably deal with it swiftly and silently.

Well it is actually not tolerated so if someone is bullied they will find out and take care of it immediately.

  • They do not tolerate it, suspended or expelled.
  • It is not tolerated.
  • Big growling
  • Yelled at him
  • They are good with it
  • Very well
  • CTs, charges,Suspension, parents phoned in
  • I don’t know. Almost certain bully gets kicked out

If you ask for the teachers help do they ignore you or help you?

  • Help me x 14
  • I don’t know
  • No, they always listen
  • Mostly help
  • Depends
  • They are on your case straight away

They’ll help me ASAP for example if I have problems with school my Section Leader assists me.

They help me a little though sometimes they don’t really take the time to listen to my question sometimes and I don’t really understand how specifically to get an (E) on my test/assignments.They do help me with learning the basics.

Usually help if a valid matter

Because there are other students who also need help it takes a little while but they never ignore you.


Vanguard Military school students PHOTO-Vanguard Military School facebook page

Vanguard Military school students
PHOTO-Vanguard Military School facebook page

Have you ever been yelled at for something very minor?

All the time

Yes x 10

Nope x 6

I’ve been given warnings but never yelled at.

Yes but it was my fault and it taught me discipline. ( Yelled at for my necklace showing at the induction days at the start of last year. )

Yes but our classrooms are quiet. Stressful for some staff.

For talking in the corridor but I’m real talkative so I don’t blame them.

Yes for not facing the front and moving while in parade but it was for a good reason.

Not myself but as a full class.

Do you like the Principal?

  • Yes x 12
  • Yes for good reason of course!
  • No!
  • Yes but he talks too much
  • Yes he’s the man
  • Yeah I do, he’s not that bad he’s not like other Principal’s so that’s good.
  • Yes he seems cool
  • Yes very much so
  • Yes, he’s cool
  • Yeah he’s cool
  • He needs to interact with students more

Yes he is the best Dean I have ever had. He always has funny/crazy stories to explain things but is always fair when teaching and always listens.

Does the Principal know your name?

  • Yeah of course
  • I think so x 5
  • Yes x 11
  • I don’t know I’m not sure if he does
  • Not sure but most likely
  • I don’t know x 2
  • Yes I’m the coolest

Yes for good reason of course!


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

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





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  • oldmanNZ

    my god, they teach the time tables there…..

    The PPTA will quickly point out no one teach this barbaric method of learning, they will learn the maths in there own time?

    • Dave

      Let’s not forget a high percentage of trained, skilled and registered Teachers could not add 7/18 + 1/9 and used that to main for extra training funds. That calculation will be etched in my mind forever, I have asked many, it’s become a bit of a joke, not even 14 yr old daughter missed it, answering in a few seconds. If the bog standard teachers don’t know, their students have no hope.

      • SlightlyStrange

        I’ve not done fractions in a while, and have a head cold, but in the time it took me to write a comment saying “give me pen and paper and a minute, and I’ll have an answer”, I stopped and looked again and realised what the answer is.
        Harder ones will actually need a physical writing down to calculate, but I *can* still do it without a calculator, most of the time.

        • Dave

          And there is the answer, how is it we who don’t teach, and in my case don’t rely on mathematical knowledge to earn a living, can do this, yet a lot of teachers, who need this as a core skill CAN’T

    • Sensiblecentre

      You’re thinking of NZEI, it’s the primary schools obsessed with that stuff. Secondary schools are just left to pick up the pieces.

      • Or in your case exacerbate the issue by sweeping it under the carpet.

        Don’t bring your union demarkation disputes here Austen Pageau.

      • Kiwibabe

        Presumably PPTA regularly tackle NZEI over that. Judging by your comment it seems not. Hence more reason for the charter school alternative, especially given it is thus far proving far superior to state schools on average.
        You must agree it is so very important to lift the performance of kids at the bottom end in society. That is how they can learn to care for themselves as adults and live more fulfilling lives.
        I have decades of experience working closely with blue collar people and they are too important to be short changed through having their children not succeed at school.

        • Sensiblecentre

          I definitely agree education is among the most important factors in lifting people out of poverty and we should do all we can to break that cycle and help all kids succeed. No one disagrees on the goal here, we just disagree on the means to achieve it.

          But partnership schools have not proven themselves superior. We only have five of them which have thus far reported back. One performed dismally, a few have performed well according to the data they have released (though there are issues over transparency and at least one set pretty low goals given the mantra of 100% achievement used to justify them). But even if all five were doing brilliantly that doesn’t really damn the whole state system of over 2,500 schools. I could choose 5 small integrated or special character schools to represent the state system and say that proved it worked wonderfully, but it would be equally untrue.
          What we really need to know is do the high-performing partnership schools do well because of the specifics of that model (expert but untrained teachers, lack of a collective agreement, freedom to set their own curriculum, ability to make a profit, bulk funding) or is it due to smaller class sizes, higher student attrition rates, use of unit standards over achievement standards etc.

          Are these things which can be replicated in the state system (like smaller class sizes) or do they prove the partnership model superior.

          Luckily we don’t really need to wait for lots of partnership schools to open here to get their data because they are based on the US model of charter schools also used in Sweden, Chile and the UK and we can look at their data. And it is based on their experiences that I oppose opening any more partnership schools over here.

          • One performed dismally, whereas literally hundreds of state schools are performing dismally…including your own. Using that as the yardstick let’s start closing down dud schools.

          • Sensiblecentre

            I’m not saying there aren’t state schools which perform poorly. There are and we do need solutions to improve them. However I don’t see partnership schools as being anywhere on the list of solutions to the problems in state schools. I would say increasing special education funding, stopping the mainstreaming of children with disabilities who need extra help, giving CYFs more funding to intervene where useless parents are the issue and putting more power behind truancy services would all be helpful. Also I think IES is going to help once it is fully rolled out. When successful schools can share what they are doing right with struggling schools with a similar demographic of kids that will make a difference.

            However my school is not “performing dismally” by any measure. One metric puts it below national averages in a handful of areas while above in others. It has seen consistent and significant improvements in NCEA pass rates every year I’ve been there and has earned praise from Minister of Education and ERO. And while it is a decile 6 we all know, and the Minister has acknowledged, that deciles are actually a flawed instrument. They only look at how many students a school has from the bottom Socio-economic quintile, It says nothing about whether the rest of the students are from the next quintile up or from the top. One decile 6 school can actually be completely different to another, which is why there is a review into the whole funding system.

          • …so the PPTA exec want – more funding for all sorts of services to get kids out of school (esp. those with needs) and … the PPTA says the real problem is “useless parents” (and the NZEI according to earlier comments).

            Your school fails because – although it says decile 6 – lots of kids there are actually worse.

            You are such a gem.

          • Sensiblecentre

            I’m not sure why you keep saying “the PPTA Exec want” etc. I’m just one person on a body of over 25 and my views here are entirely my own.

            So you continue to say my school is “failing” when your own data clearly shows it is not and you have produced no data at all to dispute the fact that ERO and the Minister have praised my school. You say I want kids “out of school” because I think truancy services to keep kids in school should have more powers?

            I’m confused as to whether you think abusive parents don’t exist or simply that we should just accept that situation and leave them there, since you disagree with giving CYFs more help.

            And apparently you are against giving more funding to teachers aides and special education to help the learning and intellectually disabled students who currently must cope in mainstream classes where they cannot get the one on one attention they need? Or do you also not think disabled students exist?

          • The Minister is stupid. I’d consider, along with many others, that producing results below the national average is failing despite any platitudes a politician hands out.

            You still haven’t managed to produce any evidence or proof that the charter schools system is as bad as you have claimed, just that you oppose the system…not why.

            The fact remains that when given choice, parents and children choose charter schools…now if state schools were all as you claim they are…world class surely there wouldn’t be any demand for these schools?

            The bottom line is this…state schools by and large are ok for most who fit inside the bell curve…if however you are at either end of the bell curve, or somehow fall through the gaping chasms which some would describe as cracks then the state system fails you.

            The PPTa professes to care about kids, yet they oppose schools where kids are getting huge benefits. What precisely would you tell their parents as you closed down their schools? That you know best? That the PPTA knows best? It is n’t them, its the evil system?

            Go away, you are an intellectual pygmy. I ma having a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

      • Dave

        Have you ever heard of working together, lets see, for the correct inputs to our secondary students, we need the students to leave primary school with these inputs! Instead of standing back throwing more mud.

        The concept of working together, one curriculum, one set of standards, then measuring that weird phenomenon called PERFORMANCE.

        • Sensiblecentre

          And that is the basis of National’s IES programme to make secondary and primary cooperate and collaborate. It’s a programme I strongly support and I do hope it will lead to more success. My frustration with NZEI is mainly with their lengthy opposition to IES which has slowed down this kind of cooperation.

  • Eiselmann

    Many of these kids won’t grow up to fulfill their roles as gang members drug dealers and lifetime beneficiaries , heck they might even grow up and not vote Labour…no wonder Labour hate seeing kids succeed its undermining their voter base.

    • ozbob68

      Yeah I liked the comment about not wanting to be on WINS and smoking pot the rest of their days.

  • Wasapilot

    Thanks again for the article SB. The thing that most of them liked which made me smile, was discipline. Consequence for your action or inaction. More schools like this please.

    I do not know any of the students or staff, but in a strange way I feel proud of all of them.

  • What these kids need and have never had before is pride in themselves. None of the pictures are staged, I am sure, and what shows through is people having fun and taking part. And this for kids that generally don’t fit the state system. What happens at Vanguard would be very easy to put in place in regular schools but I guess it would mean that the teaching staff would have to drop their PC bullcrap and actually interact constructively with their pupils instilling discipline and standards.

    • MaryLou

      That stuck out for me too. Can’t do much else, and no chance of success in anything if they don’t have pride in themselves. I think that’s why so many people can’t understand why these kids are generally set up to fail from the beginning – it beggars belief for most of us that really young people can be brought up without it.

  • gerard

    All good news SB.

  • Rodger T

    I could have done with a school like this when I was a kid.

    • Maisie

      As could have many others Rodger. All we need is for this to be allowed into our ‘normal’ schools.

  • cows4me

    This is everything the left hate with a passion, discipline, self responsibility. honor, pride, ambition, is it any wonder they see these schools as a threat. Education is everything to the left without it they are lost.

  • Sensiblecentre

    I’m not seeing anything here which could not have been done in a special character school within the state system. Aside from the CT being placed after school rather than in lunch it doesn’t sound much different to what my school does. My state school also offers free breakfasts to all students. It’s good to hear these students like their school, but it doesn’t really prove the partnership school system is superior to the state system.

    • sandalwood789

      “…it doesn’t really prove the partnership school system is superior to the state system.”

      Ahh, but many of these students have already failed at other schools. That or they have had behaviour problems elsewhere.

      Anyway – I really like the fact that the curriculum at Vanguard is very narrow and focused. No time-wasting rubbish like Treaty Studies.

      • Sensiblecentre

        Since Vanguard only teaches Year 11-13 they don’t have to cover the Treaty, that is correct. But it is because they teach only those senior years, not because they are a partnership school. Covering the Treaty is a requirement of the NZ Curriculum for Social Studies at Year 10. Vanguard proudly states they teach the NZ Curriculum so if they took on a Year 10 class they’d have to cover it.

        The bigger issue is that while it is often stated that the students at partnership schools failed in the state system we don’t actually know if that is true. These schools cannot turn away students because they were already performing well in state schools and there are a variety of reasons parent might choose to send their children to one, only one of which is failure in their current school.

        • Gee the PPTA exec is working on weekends?

          I thought you found teaching too tough…why do feel threatened by Charter Schools? Is it because useless teachers aren’t tolerated, or their superior performance compared to union controlled schools?

          • Sensiblecentre

            As I stated on the story you did about the newspaper article, that quote about long hours and poor compensation referred specifically to the paper-work required of middle managers, which takes them out of the classroom, not to my own job.

            Those who did read the whole article would have seen I was very positive about my job as a teacher. So much so that I don’t want to have to step out of the classroom to advance my career. That’s why a big point of the article was that I am very eager to take up one of the new IES roles (which National created with PPTA backing) because they give the same pay rise but without the need to leave the classroom and do paperwork instead.

            The issue that raises is the danger that fewer teachers will apply for middle management positions as they are once the full compliment of IES positions are available.

          • Typical unionist…wants to advance his career without doing any more work. Pray tell in what profession anywhere in the world does that happen.

            All you guys ever do is oppose, never propose. Whinging whining no solution unions.

            There is a reason why charter schools are being flooded with applicants…the state schools aren’t working.

            You aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

            Next thing you will tell us all how hard you work in the holidays…go on we all need a good belly laugh.

          • Sensiblecentre

            No problem with more work. The issue is paper-work versus teaching work. It’s spending more time writing department reports versus time teaching, preparing lessons and giving students feedback through marking.

            Currently the only way to advance as a teacher has been to spend less and less time actually teaching. I actually became a teacher to teach and I happen to think the IES roles are a great way to allow that career advancement without taking our best teachers out of the classroom.

          • And the reason for your school’s poor performance despite a great deal of extra funding?


          • Sensiblecentre

            That’s a little over the mark. On those stats it appears my school is below national averages in a few places and above it in others. But I’m not clear on whether their numbers are roll based or participation based. NCEA data is complex and can be influenced significantly by how many credits offered are unit standards versus achievement standards and how many are internal (much higher pass rates) or external.

            Our funding level is only marginally above the national average as well and that will be due to our relatively small size. That is indeed a big part of why partnership schools generally have better funding levels as well, their very small sizes.

            The best measure of how well a school is doing is the ERO report because they really go in and see what’s what. Our last ERO report was very positive, with the school being placed on a 4-5 year review cycle, their highest praise, and receiving a letter of commendation from Hekia Parata.

            And in any case the most important thing a school does is add value. In 2010 my school was even included in Metro’s Top Ten Schools in Auckland because of its high value added. They noted that while some higher decile schools around us got better overall results we punched above our weight and added more value. And since then our results have only improved. The Stuff data doesn’t include 2014 but we had a big jump in our Level 2 rates last year.

          • So for your school the complexity of NCEA justifies failure? But Vanguard succeeds despite that same complexity.

            Vanguard and SAMS have also got great ERO reports. So the PPTA Exec is now saying they must be good? Especially keeping in mind that they have done it on 7% of State set up and within one year. Phenomenal.

            Glad to see the PPTA is now moving towards support of charter schools.

          • And you still hasn’t told us about your friend Kirsty and how she managed to magically randomly picked you, a union boss, to whine it up to the media..

          • That’s odd, there hasn’t been a reply to that!

          • Dave

            A direct question to YOU, and an open question. If i handed you a new breakfast cereal, and asked for your opinion, would you try it, or just pass it back, and say my current one is the best. Yes, we know, union orders, and keeping “others” happy??.

            Now, please tell me, how many times have you been to a charter school to have a serious look at what they do and how long have you spent in one, or two?

          • Sensiblecentre

            The cereal analogy is an interesting one, but you haven’t got it quite right. This is more like someone handing you a new box of cereal, a brand from the US. They tell you it is almost exactly like your current favourite Kiwi brand since that one is also based on an American product from the 80s. The difference is this one tastes better and costs less. You ask why and they say it’s because this brand doesn’t have to follow the official ingredients list or report what they’ve substituted. In fact they don’t have to put any nutritional information on the box. And initially it does seem like a better brand because it tastes better. Unfortunately you learn from reading about the brand in the US and other countries that the extra ingredient is lots of sugar and while it tasted better initially it was actually bad for your overall health.

            I’ve been to Mt Hobson Middle School (which while private is the basis for multiple charters) and met with Alwyn Poole, the man behind two charter schools. But that means nothing because I am not opposed to particular individual charter schools I’m opposed to the system behind them. Of course there are good charter schools. I’m not saying they’re all bad. It is on a system level that they are bad for overall education on a system level.

          • And not a single unionist, you yourself included can provide a single reason as to WHY the system is wrong.

            Feel free to give it a go.

          • sarahmw

            Then you are not a Teacher but a mere teacher. Shame on you for putting your ideas above that of struggling students. You confuse yourself I think, on the one hand they are ok ,in the next breath they are not. Oh and bingo what you really don’t like is it is an American idea. Not every child thrives in the mainstream and as Teacher I need to recognize those children and fit my teaching around them.

          • Sensiblecentre

            I just want to point out that the fact charter schools are an American idea is no problem for me. I grew up in the US, I have no issue with American things. And I have no problem with alternative schools and special character schools. Of course parents need choice and we can’t have a one-size fits all system. My problem is that is not what partnership schools are about and they drain funds from better solutions because education funding is a zero sum game.

          • sarahmw

            Get past your way or the highway attitude and see that charter schools fulfill a need for children and that is the bottom line. I teach Montessori and do we get called out on our philosophy of how children learn, yes we do. Not all children are Montessori children but the ones who are thrive. I confess I am confused what your problem is. If it works for children then why is it not okay? Sadly union will always be anti, so there ends the lesson.

          • Sensiblecentre

            I have friends who did very well in Montessori education and I’d have no problem with special character Montessori schools opening in the state system. There is provision in the Education Act which allows just that. It’s one of the greatest strengths of our state system that it allows far more choice and diversity than most US states.

            Tomorrow’s Schools, which came in back in 1989, are indeed charter schools in fact. They are based on an American idea then trumpeted by Albert Shanker, President of America’s largest teacher union actually. The idea was to allow schools to experiment more, to have more accountability to their community and give parents some choice. It has its issues, and IES is dealing with some of them, but in general it works well.

            Partnerships Schools are based on a different American charter school model, one largely created to make profit from public education. This model takes away that local accountability and control rather than strengthening it. Partnership Schools don’t have a locally elected Board of Trustees, they aren’t accountable for how they spend tax payer money under the Official Information Act. The Ombudsman has much more limited oversight over them.

            They are technically not allowed to select their students but the reality in the US has seen many charters breaking the rules and setting entrance exams or essays or interviews to weed out difficult students. Others have been caught using selective retention, a process of putting pressure on students and their families to quit the school of they aren’t succeeding. In Washington DC charters expelled 676 students in the 2008-2011 school years, while public schools with nearly ten times as many total students expelled just 24.

            This is not a system we need over here when we already have the benefits of school choice, alternative forms of education and local control that charters in America promise.

        • LesleyNZ

          Cover the treaty? Is this what is most important? I think not. Hey – most of us parents want our kids to learn how to write, spell, read, do maths, learn proper history and science and geography and learn how to respect others and be self disciplined and most importantly these parents want their child to be taught how to think. My second son would have thrived at Vanguard if it had been around 20 years ago. It is not all about you and your philosophy of teaching – it about what the parents want for their child and how charter schools will make a better person out of their child and how their child will succeed instead of being a “failure” – a word that the likes of you really do not like at all so I am surprised you have used this word. You do not like charter schools and other private schools because the likes of you can not control them.

          • Sensiblecentre

            You shouldn’t make assumptions about me just because I’m a union office holder. I have no problem with having a grade called “fail” by the way. Not Achieved strikes me as the very worst kind of PC nonsense.

            I also have no issue with private schools, I attended a private high school myself and it was brilliant. If people want to open private schools, more power to them. I only have an issue when they fail and get bailed out by the taxpayer by being integrated. Let the market work and let them stand on their own.

            And as for teaching the Treaty, that doesn’t mean we’re teaching how wonderful it is, or some kind of indoctrinating nonsense. I teach the debate over the Treaty. Whether or not you like the Treaty it is important to understand what it is and why there is so much controversy around it. If you knew nothing about it except what you hear in the media why would you have any strong opinion about the Treaty being included in a possible written constitution as many of the left would like?

    • Hi Austen Pageau, PPTA office holder.

      Since you are here why don’t you tell us about you close working relationship with Herald reporters like Kirsty Johnson.

      • Kiwibabe


    • Since you talked about your state school let’s look at that shall we.

      I wonder what level of responsibility you take for being at a high school that is funded above the national average and fails above the national average – with decile 6 children.

    • PhantomsDoc

      “I’m not seeing anything here which could not have been done in a special
      character school within the state system.”
      Can you name special charter school which has done so much in such a short time with the same start-up and operational budgets?

      “Aside from the CT being placed after school rather than in lunch it doesn’t sound much different to what my school does.”

      “My state school also offers free breakfasts to all students. It’s good to hear these students like their school, but it doesn’t really prove the partnership school system is superior to the state system.”
      I think you are actually missing the point. It’s not that these schools as superior to state schools, it’s their ability to pick up the students the state system is failing and making achievers out of them.

      How many of your students can you honestly say would respond “I chose this school for myself because I didn’t want to be on WINS for the rest of my life smoking pot every day.” if asked why they decided to go to your school?

    • Kiwibabe

      It’s does however prove that there is an alternative which is producing stellar results and a passion in the children for their school that is extremely rare, so if this is just one of four charter schools so far of which three are doing well the stats suggest a far higher success rate than state schools. It would appear that charter schools are superior.

  • John Little

    I must say I get a warm fuzzy from this article. Why, oh why ,would anyone want to knock Vanguard or any other charter school if this is what is happening….just don’t get it!

  • Steve (North Shore)

    I wonder what the fees are? I would like to send my grandkids there (12, 14, 15) I’m sure they would enjoy it rather than their current schools

  • LesleyNZ

    If only Vanguard had been around 20 years ago for my second son. He would have thrived in Vanguard’s environment.

    • Sally

      I think it would have been a good fit for one of my sons as well. He hated school and struggled through 3 years at college. When he decided he had enough we told him he couldn’t leave until he had a job with an apprenticeship. It only took him a week to do that. He had a strict boss who sorted him out but my son blossomed. Consequently he never took a sickie, learnt how to look after his equipment and in his 15 years of working he has only had 2 bosses and never been unemployed.
      Discipline works.

  • LovetoTeach

    I’m for anything that offers more choice for students and their families. There is no one size fits all for students (or for teachers for that matter) so surely we should be looking at offering choice. I don’t think anyone is saying that the state school system should be scrapped. Charter schools, like other special character schools (because at the end of the day that’s all charter schools are, special character schools with partnership investment) offer a particular “flavour” for their students/communities, and I believe that’s a great thing.