Press release: Villa Education Trust disappointed in new government’s ‘transparency’

Credit: SonovaMin

One of the key platforms of the new government was to be their transparency. The charter school situation is in the public interest, there are threats to close them and legislation before the house to do just that.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Education have both stated that there will be an open and good faith negotiation process. For our Trust that has barely started. We have had one meeting, of 50 minutes, with Ministry officials on February 13th and the Ministry have not yet provided feedback on the proposals we put to them at that ‘negotiation’. At present their process is incredibly disrespectful to our students and families.

We are aware that other charter schools have met the Minister and Associate Ministers of Education. We are not able to do that and it is not clear why we are being treated differently. We have a complaint before the Auditor-General on the issue of fair treatment.

With it clearly in the public interest how these schools are doing, the latest piece of artifice by the Minister was to release the long-delayed Martin Jenkins Report into the performance of charter schools by simply placing it on a Ministry website on Friday evening to miss the news cycle. In this case, the report is not about achievement (it was not designed to be) it is, incredibly important because it is about the experiences of the students and whanau with the schools.

The new government ought to be transparent and the Education Minister has been promising this with broad consultation. It is therefore deeply disappointing to see a senior member of the new government attempt to bury the first report that contradicts his preconceptions and ideology.

The Villa Education Trust fully participated in the surveys on student and whanau experiences (91% of student responses were from the VET and 50% of Whanau responses).

The comments below are important and clearly very positive. They deserve wide coverage. We are happy to answer any questions.

We are also hoping for a much better approach to a ‘transition’ from the Minister to enable us to both continue and expand our, clearly, outstanding work.

Click here for the full report:

Some of the key findings are:

• The most common reason that students joined the Middle Schools was that they thought that they would learn better at these schools. The next most common reason was that the class sizes at the Middle Schools are smaller than at other schools (this is a particular point of difference for SAMS and MSWA — their class sizes are limited to 15 students).
• The feedback from Middle School students on outcomes was extremely positive. They reported improved engagement and learning, in comparison with their previous school. The highest levels of agreement were for:

I am learning better at this school than I did at my previous school
– I am more hopeful for my future now compared to when I was at my previous school
– I enjoy my school work at this school more than I did at my previous school. […]

• The Middle School students reported that the most common ‘biggest change’ for them was that they were learning better at this school than they were at their previous school. Other statements that were commonly voted as the biggest change included:

“My attendance at this school is better than it was at my previous school,” and
– “I have better friendships at this school than I did at my previous school.”

• This feedback implies that the Middle School students have a positive view of their school, attend school more often and are generally more engaged with their school and school work.
• The statement that received the highest level of agreement was:

– “This school is a good choice for me,” followed closely by
– “The things I learn at this school will help me succeed in life,” and
– “Feedback that I receive on my school work helps me to improve my learning.”

• Feedback from the Middle School students showed a lift in both academic and career aspirations compared with before they joined a partnership school […]

• Whānau had the highest levels of agreement for the following engagement outcomes:

– I feel more involved in my child’s learning at this school compared with my child’s previous school
– I am more confident in communicating with this school than I was with my child’s previous school.

• When asked what the biggest change was since their child started at the partnership school, the two most frequently chosen things were:

– I feel more involved in my child’s learning at this school
– I have a better understanding of my child’s feelings and needs since they started at this school.[…]

• The statements that received the highest levels of agreement were:

– “I feel more involved with my child’s learning at this school compared with my child’s previous school” and
– “I am more confident communicating with this school than I was with my child’s previous school.” […]


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