With all the talk about national standards and their ups and downs, many other issues are going unreported. Joanna Davies talks to West Auckland locals about public-private partnerships in education.
Katelin Hargreaves has already mastered the tangled climbing ropes at the Hobsonville Pt playground. The jungle gym, swings and slides already have the 5-year-old's thumbs-up of approval, and her parents hope she will enjoy the suburb's high school just as much - when she is old enough to go.
"When it's time for her to go to high school it will be nice to send her to a school close to home," says Katelin's mum, Stephanie Hargreaves. "If she was going to school now she would have to travel a lot to get to Massey or to a school on the Shore. Instead, both her and her sister, Sophie, will just be able to walk to school."
The Hargreaves are one of the first families to buy property at Hobsonville Pt, with their purchase going unconditional last month.
Katelin's father, Joseph, has high hopes for the school, which will open in 2014.
"I think it's going to be very innovative and I think it will take a lot of pressure off the other schools in the area which are already big schools," he says.
The family, who already live in Hobsonville in Air Force housing, took the opportunity to buy land in the area. Their house should be built over the next year.
"The suburb was always something we kept an eye on because we live so close," says Mr Hargreaves. "It will be nice to have everything close by, like schools and shops."
The new primary and high schools opening in 2013 and 2014 respectively, will do so under a public-private partnership - a first for schools in New Zealand.
Alan Curtis, the new schools' board of trustees chairman, says broad outlines are being formed for both schools.
"At this stage, we are still planning what each school will look like, and an overall vision for them," he says. "I'd like to see the libraries become more like student centres, and for the high school to have a cafe much like some of the newer schools around Auckland.
"We want to provide all the facilities that all the curriculums need, as well as very strong information and communication technology."
The biggest change for these schools is their board no longer has to organise and budget for property maintenance.
"From changing a lightbulb to fixing roofing, that will all be done by the property management under the partnership. It means we can spend more time and effort on student achievement, which is our priority."
Over the next year, both schools will be designed and the board will start looking for staff, and consulting with other schools and the community on what the new schools will need.
Class of 2013
Hobsonville Pt Primary School will be built to accommodate 690 Year One to Year Eight pupils. It will open in February 2013. The high school will open in 2014, and will be big enough for 1500 students and cater for Years Nine to Year 13.