So this is the story of a town's support for a former principal.

Tim Foy headed Huntly College.

There were a series of ERO reports that weren't flattering. He quit.

It seemed to some unfair, so they started a petition and many people in the town signed it.

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So you've got a town behind a bloke that bureaucrats in Wellington would have us believe wasn't that good at his job, and the kids at that school were suffering.

Now, obviously, I am in no position to judge.

But one of the people who went to bat for Tim Foy was a person in the community who had dealt with him, had seen the work he had done and also happened to be a former pupil of the school.

A business-owner, he had seen a number of the kids that came out of the college and had ended up training them through apprenticeships and eventually employing them.

His point was this - and it's an important one - that school needs to be about more than tests and qualifications and bits of paper.

It was that you can produce good productive workers and citizens without them necessarily getting level 3 NCEA-endorsed.

In fact the bloke making the comment called himself a hands-on learner. He had walked out of Huntly College with no qualifications but these days said he ran a business with $20 million turn over, had a dairy farm and six manufacturing companies.

So, was he a failure? Would the ERO have frowned upon the educational facility in which he failed?

And this is where perhaps we need to revisit what school is all about.

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We are dealing with this at home. At least one of our kids has worked out - or at least is claiming - school is a waste of time. He's got ideas for his future. They are entrepreneurial and he doesn't see those plans dovetailing with NCEA.

And have we not in the past couple of years at last woken up to the fact that we have put a ludicrous emphasis on traditional learning and tradition jobs to the detriment of things like the trades?

Now, the pen pushers of the capital will presumably tell us they are merely carrying out orders

But maybe we can now ask: Are the orders in need of revision?

None of this defends the former principal per se.

I mean, he might have been a genius in terms of working with kids outside the square. He might have produced dozens of brilliant future workers, citizens and decent people.

Or he might just have been out of his depth and the ERO could be right. But the defence of this bloke raises something worth thinking about - that education is clearly too singular, and too one-size-fits-all.