West Auckland Middle School

An open letter from a Partnership school parent

Dear Jacinda and Chris

I hope I?ve managed to make it through your gatekeepers and you?re able to have a quick read of this email.

I?m writing in support of Villa Education Trust (VET) Charter Schools. My son has historically found it difficult to fit into the traditional schooling model and has been through 4 schools before I enrolled him at West Auckland Middle School for year 9.

“John” has ADHD and ODD and the traditional, somewhat overstretched school systems have not been able to accommodate his extra needs, a good example is a school suspension within the first week of year 1, not the ideal experience for a 5-year-old, but also one of the only tools available for teachers who have large classrooms to deal with.

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The inconvenient truth about Vanguard Military school

I will let the percentages and students speak for themselves. Vanguard Military school is a Partnership school ( charter school ) that is achieving exactly what it set out to do. It’s success and the success of other charter schools like West Auckland and South Auckland Middle school is an inconvenient truth that the Teacher Unions and the Labour Party choose to ignore.



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2015 Vanguard Military School graduation impresses

Charter school, West Auckland Middle School has received its first report card from ERO and the future looks bright. Vanguard Military School recently celebrated its own success in a moving graduation ceremony.

Despite the Labour Party and PPTA’s determined opposition to Partnership schools the success stories will not be suppressed. Note the comment of Lulu Bellisma. Her son is already in a partnership school and she would love that to continue when he is high school age.

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West Auckland Charter school gets its first report card

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 5.05.57 pmAfter its first year of operation West Auckland Middle School has received its first report card from ERO.

The Labour Party and the PPTA have warned us that any money spent on Charter schools is money wasted and that Charters are doomed to failure and that they are a reckless social experiment.

So how did MSWA do on their report card?

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The Charter Center in New York impressed by NZ Charter school model

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The article the New York Charter Centre?is referring to was written by New Zealander Alwyn Poole who helped found the Villa Education Trust. The Trust operates Mount Hobson Middle School which is a private school and two of New Zealand?s first charter schools.

The New York City Charter School Center was founded in 2004 and claims to be the leading expert and proponent of New York City?s charter school movement.

We help new charter schools get started, support existing schools and build community and political support so that high quality charters can flourish.


I visited both South Auckland Middle School and West Auckland Middle School as a part of my investigation into New Zealand charter schools. Mount Hobson Middle School is the ?successful model on which both charter schools are based. Recently I made face of the day an ex student of Mount Hobson who has been announced as Head Girl for Epsom Girls’ Grammar.

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Face of the day


Today’s face of the day Michelle Schneideman, has recently been announced as Head Girl for Epsom Girls’ Grammar for 2016.

Michelle is a former pupil of Mt Hobson Middle School, which is the educational model on which Charter schools, South Auckland Middle School and West Auckland ?Middle School are based.

I wish her all the very best for her future and am glad that students in West and South Auckland will now have the opportunity to get the kind of middle school education she gained at Mt Hobson.

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Charter Schools Perception Series: The Students

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School. -Photo Whaleoil.co.nz

When I visited Mt Hobson, South Auckland and West Auckland Middle School my son took the photos and my daughter ( Miss Whaleoil ) interviewed the students. The questions she asked were written by her as I wanted a student’s perspective. Many of her questions were closed yes/no questions unfortunately but she did manage to gain a reasonable snap shot of what the students of all three schools think about their school. ( Mt Hobson is not a Charter school but is the original model on which South and West Auckland Middle school are based.)

Rather than write a question and answer for each individual student interviewed, under each question you will find a range of replies have been labelled A) B) C) etc so you can tell one student’s answers from another ones. Some students were not asked all of the questions.

I have written the students’ replies as they were given, including slang and incomplete sentences.

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Charter Schools Perception Series: The Critics


Partnership Schools or Charter Schools came about after the 2011 General Election due to an agreement between the National Party and the Act Party. The legislation passed with a five vote majority.The Charter School model was criticised by other political parties, educational authorities and teacher organisations as well as some members of the public.

A summary of the key concerns that they raised at that time are below:

1) The concern that that the National-ACT alliance had a hidden agenda which was to set up charter schools as an alternative to state schools in order to eventually replace them.

‘The Government?s plans for charter schools are a stealth privatisation of education’

-Young Labour Press release

One of the Charter schools I visited, Vanguard Military School, includes amongst its students those rejected by the State School system, students who have been expelled or suspended. The other two Charter schools told me that compared to State Schools the number of ex home schooled children on their roll is very high. That indicates to me that the purpose of Charter schools is to provide education for students who are currently not doing well in State education, rather than to replace State education.

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Charter Schools Perception Series: The Advocates Part TWO


Image – Whaleoil.co.nz

Background: Karen Poole has a B.B.S. (Marketing) and is a Business Manager for the Villa Education Trust with over 25 years administrative and business experience in the education sector. She implements strategy, provides development and compliance, and has worked within a number of education establishments around New Zealand.

TELL me how this all came about and why you wanted to do it?

I am the Business Manager for the Trust so I am in charge of? the resourcing, the teachers, the enrollments, the building facilities. Alwyn will have already discussed with you what his vision was and he does the curriculum and the academic side of it. I help facilitate all that. Mount Hobson Middle School being a private school was obviously where we started, it was the only way to start. Then when the Partnership schools agreement came into force it was an opportunity for us to be able to provide what we do, for other students which was always our aim.

NOTE: Karen and Alwyn are a married couple who sold their home to 
fund Mount Hobson Middle School. 

YOU put a lot on the line at the start, with selling your house.

Yeah we did, but it was something we very much believed in and could see that there was a real need for it and it was just something we wanted to do.

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Charter Schools Perception Series: The Advocates Part One UPDATED

Image- Whaleoil.co.nz

Image- Whaleoil.co.nz

WHAT is your background in education Alwyn?

I started teaching in 1991. I taught at Tauranga Boys, which is a good school, then did a little time at Hamilton Boys and then taught at Saint Cuthbert?s college. During that time I worked really hard in the background doing some study looking at some other countries. In the end the questions were, what is really good about the New Zealand education system and what could change?

The bottom line is that for the vast majority of children in New Zealand if you place them in year eleven in good shape they will do fine.

Alwyn Poole has a BBS, MEd (Hons), Dip Tchg and a PG Dip Sport Mgt. He is a Principal and Academic Manager.

WHY is there a need for a new Middle School model?

I think one place that we are incredibly remiss in New Zealand is that we don?t ask our Primary School applicants to have a minimum NCEA level of two or three in Maths and a Science therefore we have got a whole heap of Primary teachers who are unable to be strong in those areas.

Children are coming to year seven quite often without a good background in those subjects.

So where do we fall down? The answer is in years seven, eight, nine and ten.

I think for many people Intermediate schooling has done its dash. And the first two years of secondary schooling are under valued and under resourced. You have got bigger classes and you put your less able teachers and you don?t put as much emphasis on it because the Schools are judged on year eleven, twelve and thirteen.

So at that year nine and ten time when the kids really need help developmentally and intellectually to be catered for at their best, is when in our New Zealand education system we choose to give them the least.

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