Villa Education Trust

Zombie (Cranberries – Dolores O’Riordan) Cover: Hamish Gee (The Feekers) & 14 year old Poppy Edgar

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The focus of the NZ Villa Education Trust has two parts:
1. To do an incredible job with the children we have with us.
2. To tell the whole world that all children (regardless of background) can achieve amazing things:
Poppy Edgar played this song at Trust LIVE 18 with an amazing “Super-Group” of NZ musicians. This is an in studio version with the remarkable Hamish Gee of The Feelers (one of NZ’s best ever selling bands).
This is the superb in studio version.
What a voice!

I’m a girl Friday who schedules posts.

Open Response to SST hit job by Alwyn Poole

I saw the Sunday Star-Times hit job this morning, on Mt Hobson Middle School by Simon Day.

It had all the signs of a pre-prepared hit job where the journalist has already pre-supposed the outcome and only seeks comment to try to ‘balance’ the article.

I contacted Alwyn Poole this morning offering a right of reply to the Sunday Star-Times that would be much more fulsome than anything that they would allow.

He has emailed his response.


 Mr Slater

Thank you for the invitation to respond to the Fairfax media article relating to the Villa Education Trust. I have to acknowledge that I won’t be reading the article but after interactions with reporter, Simon Day, during the week, I am aware that there would be two main thrusts – and a broader implication. Although I will not be reading it people who look after our interests no doubt will and I hope Mr Day has taken all care (he chose not to meet or come to the school to clarify his points). I will reply here only because the quality of Mr Day’s methods and questions left me in significant doubt that he would be accurate and/or fair.

The thrusts:

1) That Mt Hobson Middle School did not meet its obligations with a child that attended during term 1 of 2014.

2) That special needs funding was not fully used.

The implication – that because the Villa Education Trust runs Partnership Schools there could be a problem with that model.

On the specific student situation I will not comment on the child or the family. Clearly we consider we work very hard and skilfully with every student. In 2014 the family did question that through a formal channel and the school was found to have fully done exactly as they specified they would. This information was given to Mr Day – it was inconvenient for him so he ignored it.

On funding. I doubt that there is an organisation that works more closely with official bodies such as the Ministry of Education and ERO than the Villa Education Trust does. We take all care with systems and when in doubt, or when we get things wrong, we take full care to clarify and correct. We are an organisation that is audited financially and fully reviewed by the ERO. As a Charitable Trust and an organisation operating Partnership Schools – we take massive care. In this case we will pro-actively ask the Ministry to re-check if there is any legitimacy to the claim the parents appear to be making through the media – which conflict with written understandings we had with them. If any detail is found to be needing to be rectified that will happen immediately as would be our normal process.

Why the confidence?      Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Good things already from NZ Charter Schools

Even apparent Charter School opponents have had to acknowledge some good progress and potential on this front already. From the Save our Schools team: http://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/hoping-for-some-honest-answers-on-charter-schools/

At the Quality Public Education Coalition forum, chairman Bill Courtney caused heads to swivel when he greeted Alwyn Poole in the audience before giving an update on charter schools. Poole is the principal of Mt Hobson Middle School. He’s also a member of the Villa Education Trust, whose South Auckland Middle School is one of the first in the charter schools pilot.

Courtney’s talk used South Auckland Middle School’s figures to explain how funding has been allocated. He also made the point that the charter school model has been hijacked by the privatisation movement. One of the first proponents of the idea, Albert Shanker, saw it as a way to allow teachers greater autonomy, to engage the students who weren’t being served by normal schools

This sounds like what Poole’s schools have been able to do: Poole said he works with children with needs like dyslexia or Asperger’s, or kids who need a “boost” at middle school level. He was asked why couldn’t he achieve it within the system as a special character school. In 2002, that option was “blocked”. They were looking for “ways of expanding what we do”, so applied for the partnership school option.   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Five Charter Schools to open in 2014

The government has announced that five Charter Schools will be opening their doors next year.

This is a fantastic step forward that will no doubt be opposed by Labour and their pals in the teacher unions. Whenever they open their gobs they should be asked what it is that thy propose to deal with the long tail of under-achievement that they have created with their system, where 20% fail…they should be asked why they continue to maintain that a 20% failure rate is acceptable.

The Government has announced the first successful applicants for charter schools in New Zealand, all of them in Northland and Auckland.

Education Minister Hekia Parata and Association Education Minister John Banks said five organisations had successfully applied to be partnership, or charter schools.  Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.