Private school welcomes charter trial to aid the disadvantaged

By Derek Cheng

Alwyn Poole. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Alwyn Poole. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A charter school trial is being welcomed by a private education provider in Auckland that is looking to expand its model to help disadvantaged students.

The Government wants to try charter schools - state-funded independent campuses - in South Auckland and Christchurch, with the possibility of making them a permanent part of the education system.

Alwyn Poole, academic manager at Mt Hobson Middle School, said the model he uses would be perfect for a charter school.

"There hasn't been a mechanism for us to expand, and we know it would work incredibly well in areas where there is great need."

The private school was set up in 2003 for about 50 pupils from Year 7 to 10. It runs a curriculum based on the national one and is audited by the Education Review Office.

Pupils (about 12 per class) study in the morning. In the afternoon they do music, art, sports and community service.

"We've got kids across the spectrum and a 95 per cent pass rate at Year 11 with the schools they then go in to," Mr Poole said.

The school is funded by the Villa Education Trust, which is also setting up a middle school in Upper Hutt next year.

He said the trust was non-profit, and he was cautious about for-profit providers running charter schools.

Charter schools will also be allowed to raise funds through sponsorship or partnerships with universities, the private sector or community groups, including iwi.

The Green Party says it is concerned that the trial will take money away from public schools.

"The Government must also explain if new spending has been allocated for this project or if the spending will come from existing education baselines," said Greens education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty.

The trial has been opposed by unions representing teachers and principals.

- NZ Herald

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