Private Schools

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What National Has Done To Education in 2016 (so far)

id-100435177It’s been a year of non-stop changes and proposals. Some call it a war on free public schooling in NZ – indeed it feels like a continuous battery of skirmishes with little to no break between attacks.

If the Minister is purposefully undertaking psychological warfare to break teachers down, then she’s doing it well, because we’re worn out; We just want to teach.

So far this year, NZ public education has faced:

  • COOLs – out of nowhere and with no consultation at all, Hekia Parata announces plans for online charter schools for 5-18 year olds.
  • Global Funding – a raft of proposals to bulk fund schools, including giving schools a set payment to fund teachers with the provision for schools to spend that money any way they want (including not spending it on teachers).  This means government would cease to guarantee to maintain teacher/students ratios at current levels.
  • Special Educational Needs – the Minister has proposed significant changes, but appears to have largely ignored the information collected at select committee. It was confirmed that there will be no additional money for SEN, despite a real issue with under-funding. There are proposals to divert current funding towards early childhood education and reduce funding for 5-18 year olds. Proposal to stop ORS funding at age 18 rather than 21. (And Hekia lied in the house saying the proposals have support where none exists.)
  • Operations budget frozen – schools’ operations funding is frozen despite a hike in power and water bills, meaning a net loss of funds to schools. This means less money for things such as libraries, equipment, specialist classes, and teacher aides.
  • Teacher Education Refresher course – ill-thought-out and inappropriate targeting of teachers for retraining costing $4k (and no student loans available for the course) causes huge amounts of stress for teachers and put pressure on schools as it gets harder to find relievers.
  • Charter Schools – two more, despite the current ones missing targets set by Ministry of Education
  • National Standards – the ‘National Standards: School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project 2010-2014‘ report was published and reported that “evidence strongly suggests that [Overall Teacher judgements (OTJs)] lack dependability, which is problematic as OTJs are a central element of the National Standards system”.  Despite this, National Standards are still being pushed and continue to be used by government as if they are reliable.
  • Pushing PaCT – schools being pressured to adopt the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards. This includes workshops that give school staff very biased  and one-sided information. There are still concerns PaCT is being pushed in order to later use the data for performance pay, despite research and experiences showing  that teacher performance pay does not improve student outcomes and in some cases lowers it.
  • Education funding diverted to private sector – proposal to give a larger portion of the education budget to charter schools and private schools, leaving less for public schools
  • Untrained Staff unsupervised in classes – Minister proposed a law change to allow untrained ‘teachers’ to work unsupervised in public school classrooms (this while at the same time forcing trained teachers to spend $4k to upskill if they are deemed to have not done enough classroom teaching over the past few years).

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things – there have been so many – so please comment below if there’s anything that needs to be added.

Meanwhile, look after yourselves – there’s still one whole term to go and, as we know, a lot can happen in a few short weeks.

~ Dianne

PS, more added below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


David Seymour’s misinformation on private and public school funding

pants on fire GERM reformersDavid Seymour’s press release today about the collapse of North Shore based private school, Corelli, has two whoppers in it.

First, he incorrectly implies that if a student moves from a private school into a state school then the taxpayer would be $5,000 a year poorer for each student.

This is nonsense.  The average amount of government funding per student in the state school sector is derived by dividing a whole raft of aggregated costs by the very large number of students enrolled.  But that does not mean that each additional student – at the margin – would cost the taxpayer that amount of money.

Many of the costs incurred in running our schools do not immediately change as the number of students changes.  So, it might be possible to absorb more students into the existing school network and hardly change the costs involved.  Some costs may go up but by no means all of them will.

The second point in Seymour’s reckless release is that he conveniently overlooks the fact that Corelli has a large number of International students on its roll.

The preliminary March roll data suggests Corelli had as many as 19 international students out of its total roll of 37.

So, if they were all “forced” into attending a state school, the taxpayer would actually benefit, as the international students pay fees that are often over $20,000 a year!

With misinformation as grossly misleading as this, it’s no wonder the public doesn’t trust politicians.


~ Bill Courtney, SOSNZ

Education systems: Finland v. NZ charter schools v. NZ state schools

At 1am last night a Kiwi charter school operator emailed me to boast that his school has done inquiry learning like the Fins for over 10 years. He said this as if it was novel – as if no other school in NZ is doing it.

It struck me as bizarre that he was implying his schools were on the Finnish model – it’s like comparing apples and oranges and saying they are the same because they both have pips.

So I thought it’d be worth comparing some key aspects of Finland and NZ’s school systems:


All Finland’s Schools:  Yes. Minimum of a Master’s Degree in Education

New Zealand State Schools: Yes. Minimum of a recognised teaching qualification

New Zealand Charter Schools: No

New Zealand Private Schools: No


All Finland’s Schools:  No

New Zealand State Schools: No

New Zealand Charter Schools: Yes

New Zealand Private Schools: Yes


All Finland’s Schools:  Yes

New Zealand State Schools: Yes

New Zealand Charter Schools: No

New Zealand Private Schools: No


All Finland’s Schools:  No

New Zealand State Schools: No

New Zealand Charter Schools: No, but no high level special education needs students have been admitted to an NZ charter school as yet.

New Zealand Private Schools: Yes


All Finland’s Schools: Yes

New Zealand State Schools: Yes, some

New Zealand Charter Schools: Yes, some

New Zealand Private Schools: Unknown

It appears that Finland’s schools have more in common with NZ state schools than NZ charter or private schools, sorry Alwyn.  And if teachers had their way, NZ schools would be even more like Finland’s with no national grading at primary level, no cherry-picking of students, small class sizes in every school, equal funding for all schools, no league tables, food for all students, free school equipment for all students, and all teachers fully qualified…

Unfortunately, the Education Minister prefers to take us in another, less favourable, divisive direction that ignores inequities and instead promotes National Standards, league tables, and parallel but unequal systems like charter schools…

All the inquiry learning in the world won’t redress that.

~ Dianne


Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?, Pasi Sahlberg, New York: Teachers College Press, 2011

Destiny Church – so many questions

So, Destiny Church school is eyeing up its options after being turned down as a charter school. Why would that be?  Why would a private school suddenly want to be a charter school and then, failing that, become a public school?

Funding for Integrated Schools

moneyThe Herald report that as at 2011, and in its present form, the school “charges tuition fees from $65 to $85 a week and received a $266,000 operations grant from the Ministry of Education,” but it would be entitled to more tax payer funding should it become integrated.

As a state integrated school, it would get the same government funding for each student as other public schools. In 2013 this was $5,837 per primary student and $7,521 per secondary student.

In addition, it would be allowed to charge fees.  Not donations, but fees – not optional.

So it could arguably be quids in.  (Or is that dollars in?)

And, of course, it would get to retain ownership of its buildings and land.

Transformational Education?

A Destiny spokesperson said that the move would allow the school to take it “transformational model” of education to more children.

I would like to know more about this “transformational model” – what makes it so amazing?  Is it really that amazing at all?  And if it is, then why did the government turn them down as a charter school?

They have tried to become an integrated school before, and were turned down.  And their charter school bid was turned down.  It doesn’t look like the Ministry think anything miraculous is going on there, does it?

So many questions.


Sources and further reading:
Destiny school eyes state aid – NZ Herald

Per student funding in New Zealand state and state integrated schools

Destiny Church school applies for state funding – TV3

Destiny Church’s charter school application declined – NZ Herald

DestinyChurch – Wikipedia

When does 367 equal 1150? When it involves charter school funding

charter schools this-does-not-add-up

(WALT) We are learning that 367 can equal 1150.

Success criteria: We will know we understand this when we recognise the difference in funding rules for state schools and privately run charter schools.

Here is your numbers story:

The Ministry of Education releases its March 2014 school roll returns online. There are 367 students attending charter schools:

  • South Auckland Middle School has 108 students
  • Vanguard Millitary School has 104
  • Te Hura Hourua ki Whangaruru has 63
  • Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa has 50, and
  • The Rise Up Academy has 42.

367 pupils represents around 0.049 percent of the total student population (753,952).

The government is funding 367 charter school students to the tune of $7.5 million this year.

Now this bit is tricky, so listen carefully, Eric.  Leave the Velcro, mate, yes, well done, nice listening. Ready …

Nelson College for Girls gets the same amount of funding as the 367 charter school students but Nelson College for Girls has around 1150 students.

$7.5 Million for each.

Therefore 367 = 1150.  

Or at least when it comes to accessing government funds for education.

Yes, I know Eric, it makes no sense to me either.

Yes, the charter schools are private businesses – please leave Belinda’s pigtails alone.

What was that, Kyle? Can we find out how the charter schools are spending the money? No, sweetie, we can’t, because they are private businesses and can spend it any way they like but we can’t ask under the Official Information Act.

Fair?  Well the thing is … ermmm….

Oh there’s the bell, off you run ….

Tomorrow it’s more magic government numbers!  We’ll look at how how $23 Million in welfare fraud is bigger than $6 Billion in unpaid taxes…


Your homework: Read more about charter schools.

Sources: Ministry of Education school rolls info

Privatise all the things! Oh, wait…

hekia_parata_maniacleThe dementor is in full swing, fairly skipping up the path of global education reform (GERM) throwing rose petals and blank cheques in her path, just behind her good pals George Bush, Michael Gove, Arne Duncan, Tony Blair and the other GERMers determined to leave our kids’ education to the whims of the market place.

Ooh I bet they are having one heck of a party!

Privatise all the things

Good job, too. I’m so very glad they are selling it all off.  Schools schmools.

I mean, the free market has worked so very well in all other aspects of our lives, hasn’t it, with reasonable power prices, good telecoms services, stable housing market, no Wall Street crashes that rock the entire world markets.

Oh wait.  I’m making a Hekia style faux pas here, aren’t I?  A blunder, if you will.

Because privatisation does not necessarily improve services.  In fact it can make them worse.  And more costly. Much more costly.

Which is all a bit of a concern for me, because I like to know my tax dollars are being stent wisely, not just ferreted off into a poorly performing private sector company that doesn’t match what the public sector was doing in the first place.

I’m picky like that,

It’s not just me, though – even the Treasury has pointed out that private companies don’t do better than public ones – even if they are perceived to because they cherry pick their ‘clients’:

Private not better than public schools

In fact public schools beat private ones hands down, despite having to cater for all students of all abilities, backgrounds, behaviours, and so on.  Wow. Maybe we shouldn’t privatise all the things after all.

Maybe I should also go read what Allan has to say on the matter, since he has been at the sticky end of education for more years than I.  He’s not teaching any more, so he has no vested interest whatsoever in how it all pans out.  Let’s see what he says

“As I’ve been saying for several years, National’s education policies have nothing to do with education, regardless of their spin about ‘raising achievement’ for all. This will come as no surprise to ‘thinking’ people but man, there are many out there who are still unable to open their eyes to the reality.

This includes far too many principals who damn well should know better.

Warning people – National and its cronies are set on a path to destroy New Zealand’s public education at all levels. The privatisation process is on full speed ahead. We have six months to stop it.”

Jeepers, he is rather concerned, and he has found a number of others thinking the same way…

I think I had best go and read the full thing.  Bear with…

Okay, I’m back.  So … maybe…. mayyyyybe…. just a thought, but maybe there are lots of folk out there that want to support and improve our public schools rather than cripple them and sell them off?

Like, off the top of my head, all those parents whose children will be at the mercy of this shackled and broken system, taught by a demoralised profession forced to focus only on test scores in maths and English.

And maybe the old who, when those kids are grown up, have to live in a world now run by them, at the mercy of the economy they create with their great test-taking skills (and high depression rate).  Maybe they’d prefer well-rounded and well-educated people in charge instead?

jobsAnd, hey here’s a thought – maybe the students themselves would like to be considered more than the sum of their numeracy and literacy.

Because, y’know, there could also be artists and dentists and musicians and physicists and counsellors and gardeners and dancers and doctors and hairdressers and chefs and inventors and, well to be honest, every single person in every single job and in every part of their lives needs more than to just be good at reading, writing and maths.  Those things are great – essential – but they are not everything.

So, I think maybe I will stick with supporting public schools to remain just that – public.

For the good of everyone.

The List: What National has done to New Zealand education

It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years.  I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief.  To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.

I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.

So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.

This is the list.  It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train.  Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years.  It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.

Take a breath, and read on:

A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:

You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)

The full Local Bodies article is here.  It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)

Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.

Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act.  How?

  1. Speak up. Talk about the issues with others – encourage them to think about what’s going on and what it means in the long run;  and most importantly,
  2. Vote.  VOTE.  Definitely vote. And encourage everyone you know to vote, as well.

Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.

~ Dianne

one person stands up and speaks out

Ravitch - public schools under attack

Wanganui 1: Christchurch 0 – the education game

So, Christchurch schools were forced to close  because of falling rolls…

But Wanganui Collegiate, in an area with 1400+ unused school places, is given bailout after bailout.

Guess which of these schools was a private school?

Guess which was rescued from debts of over $800k despite having assets worth millions?

Guess which had rolls that were growing?

Yet more evidence of the way this government favours private business over public schools and looks after the top few at the expense of the majority of ordinary New Zealanders.  Shame on them.

And who wants to join me in betting that Wanganui is a charter school within a couple of years, with higher level decile 3 funding and not much oversight?  I’m willing to put a tenner on it right now.

Labour - education and inequality 2

politicians and private schools

Dom Post quake hekia cartoon

Private not better than public schools

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