Wellington Primary Schools

December 20th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A friend of mine has their kids at St Marks (which by coincidence was my intermediate school) but it has got too expensive for him as fees have gone up 25%.

They live in the Hutt but are happy to move to the right suburb to get into the right school.

Any readers out there have any recommendations or experiences with primary in . if so, please share them in the comments.

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43 Responses to “Wellington Primary Schools”

  1. Manolo (13,330 comments) says:

    Don’t need to look any further than Wadestown School. :-)

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  2. Nicola Wood (57 comments) says:

    I went to Paremata School for primary and intermediate and it was good. I’m glad I had no uniform and no religion before I had uniform and religion.

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  3. berend (1,631 comments) says:

    The National party is outlawing independent schools, so no point to look any further. As readers might not know the circumstances, there is a bill before parliament, already in 2nd reading as National has sneaked this past the private schools.

    The association of Independent Schools stated:

    35F (2) In assessing the standard of tuition, the mode of curriculum delivery and the regularity of instruction be considered adds a new criterion: “the mode of curriculum delivery” which grossly intrudes upon the present freedoms of private schools to use methods of teaching that differ from the state, providing that the outcomes of that teaching are at least to the standard of an equivalent state school.

    Our experience over many years is that despite the overwhelming professionalism of officers of the Education Review Office, occasionally individual officers can have a strong prejudice against the diversity expressed by a particular Private School that nonetheless has a long history of reputable quality delivery of schooling. If this clause is passed, such personal prejudices or indeed some future systemic preference for a particular style of teaching could be the basis for significant and unwarranted constraint of diversity.

    They continue with 2 more points. Let me quote the last one that gives Hugo Chavez like powers:

    35L Suspension of registration if welfare of students may be at risk empowers the Secretary for Education to form an opinion and suspend the registration of a school without due process, without guidance or restraints, and without adequate protection for the Secretary, the children, or the school.

    Yes Nats, this is your party trying to outlaw private schools. This is not Labour, though it was a Labour (Geoffrey Palmer) bill. Just read section 35 that deals with private schools and see what powers the Ministry of Education gets.

    So I suggest just go to the government schools, as they shortly will be the only game in town. All dissent will be outlawed.

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  4. YesWeDid (1,029 comments) says:

    Just read the ERO report for any school that you might be thinking of sending your children to, that’s a far more reliable indication of the quality of education a school offers than the 3rd hand recommendations of the general public.

    ERO reports are easily found on the internet either on the schools website or at http://www.ero.govt.nz.

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  5. magsta (242 comments) says:

    Tell your friends to think hard before shifting house. Good schools can go down-hill rapidly when a lousy principal is appointed. By the same token, poorly run schools can be turned around by a good principal and senior team.

    We had the misfortune of enrolling a child in a good school without knowing that the principal was in her last term….. I don’t think the school has ever bounced back to its former state.

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  6. rouppe (914 comments) says:

    berend what planet are you on. I went to the link in your post and 35L says:

    35L Suspension of registration if welfare of students may be at risk
    The Secretary may at any time suspend the registration of a school registered under section 35A if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that the welfare of the students at the school is at risk, and—
    “(a) that it is unlikely that the risk can be managed by any practicable means other than by suspension of the registration; or
    “(b) that, although the risk could be managed by means other than by suspension of the registration, the amount of time necessary to do so is likely, in the opinion of the Secretary, to be excessive.

    At no point is the phrase “without due process” in the document

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  7. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    Poor wee kids having to travel to and from the Hutt every day for primary school!
    Just pick any Decile 9 or 10 state school. Pay the real estate premium. You’ll be surrounded by lots of snobby middle class parents who think the right address guarantees the making of your little geniuses, they’ll never have to rub shoulders with any ethnic groups apart from Asian ones and they’ll get some excellent teachers.
    If you think that these nice middle class enclaves will protect your kids from the riff raff, just remember that wealth is what purchases booze, drugs and fast cars but if getting the right school is what matters most, then you won’t really be worrying about the social problems of rich kids and can probably afford the hush-up money.
    As a former teacher and a parent myself, I know that a good teacher can make a huge difference (especially if your child has any of the middle class learning problems like dyslexia) and lower decile schools can have brilliant results with briliiant teachers but if you are dumb yourself then don’t expect the school to work miracles. Kids raised on BMWs, fashion labels and jet skis know exactly what their parents’ priorities really are.

    And berend you don’t have to look far to find some really creepy private schools, often run by odd religious groups. The welfare of the kids must be protected by law.

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  8. Nick C (340 comments) says:

    Well obviously Governments arent going to advertise in legislation that they intend to do something without due process. However I suspect that if a school were deregistered under this act unjustly they could fight it with judicial review.

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  9. Sisterofmany (1 comment) says:

    We have been very happy with Wadestown school, although it has recently surveyed the parents to find out the level of support for a uniform.

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  10. berend (1,631 comments) says:

    rouppe, any idea why every independent school is up in arms?

    You probably haven’t read too many bills, so you need to read between the lines. Read the phrase in 35L.b ” the amount of time necessary to do so is likely, in the opinion of the Secretary, to be excessive”. This means we can’t wait for the outcome of police investigation or due process to take place, we just shut the school, and say sorry a few years later if we’re wrong. The school is gone by then, let me assure you that.

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  11. MIKMS (164 comments) says:

    All of the Wellington Schools seem to be going down the hole just a little bit, even QMC and Marsden have Lost their best years I think, I’d export to Wanganui Collegiate or Kings in Auckland, Maybe Christ’s College

    As a end result of the Private School system A few things are worth noting – while there are parents within the Upper Middle class bracket many more were just members of the regular 60k p.a group. There were kids on the old variant of the Aspire Scholarships luckily still being able to receive them rather than being chucked back into the hellhole decile 1-4 schools they had attended previously, Kids whose parents were taxi Drivers, plenty of ‘Non Asian’ Ethnic Diversity – though that should not be a means to determine the worth of a school at all. There were a dozen, maybe two dozen kids out of several hundred who you could point to as being genuinely spoilt and that really isn’t even a measure of Wealth either- just a measure of the parenting skills; the kids who you learnt to be future millionaires by inheritance were generally not noticeable as such. There was no ‘bashing’ on the poor kids because really that was an irrelevance in light of the education/ Culture and Sporting surroundings at the school.

    On Wadestown School I was ‘lucky’ enough to have 1 1/2 years of my life in that place; when i was there Fish and Chups were still allowed for Tuesday tuckbox , A Deep Spring Vending machine was in the corridor and they had a Hand Bell; also there were a few Exclusive Brethen Around the place- one of whom in my class I remember came crying to school because her Dad tore up a book about a Batam Chicken in WWI that the Kid’s Book award people had given her… apparently they have their own semi-integrated schools or something now.

    That’s just my little Rave on Wellington Schools

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  12. berend (1,631 comments) says:

    Nick C: “However I suspect that if a school were deregistered under this act unjustly they could fight it with judicial review.”

    By the time that has gone through schools, you don’t have your private school anymore.

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  13. berend (1,631 comments) says:

    BeaB: And berend you don’t have to look far to find some really creepy private schools, often run by odd religious groups. The welfare of the kids must be protected by law.

    Yes, that’s exactly what we are afraid of. My kids go to such a “really creepy private school run by odd religious groups.”

    Should be forbidden shouldn’t it? You can’t trust the parents. That is what is National is about is it? The government making sure you raise your kids as bureaucrats tell you?

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  14. anonymouse (694 comments) says:

    @MIKMS
    I’d export to Wanganui Collegiate or Kings in Auckland, Maybe Christ’s College

    Well perhaps the latter two anyway

    Wanganui Collegiate School is seeking to integrate and expects to hear before the end of the year whether it will be approved to enter negotiation

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/63586/two-private-schools-to-join-state-sector

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  15. MIKMS (164 comments) says:

    Aw that’s a downer…

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  16. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    No berend why forbid anything, however odd, if it is doing no harm? That’s not what this law is about.
    We can tolerate a fair bit of eccentricity in this wee country but no child should be at risk. Parents are entitled to hold their cranky ideas but if kids are being mistreated in any way at any school, then I want the state to step in.
    And why on earth would you send your precious kids to a really creepy school?

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  17. berend (1,631 comments) says:

    BeaB: please define really creepy. The law doesn’t.

    So what is really creepy?

    It’s in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?

    If this becomes law, independent schools are no longer subject to objective law, but to opinions of bureaucrats.

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  18. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    Don’t get carried away berend. I think there are some objective tests eg kids being beaten or being taught black people are agents of the devil or having to have sex with staff or being punished in cruel ways or being left unsupervised or being taught crap by unqualified teachers etc etc.
    I haven’t made these up and I think the man on the Clapham Omnibus would agree these are pretty creepy.
    So why would you subject your kids to this?

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  19. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    DPF,

    I would recommend Thorndon School as an excellent choice. My partner’s son goes there and she is extremely happy with the teaching and general school environment (or ‘vibe’ if you like.)

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  20. Fost (100 comments) says:

    BeaB: Poor wee kids having to travel to and from the Hutt every day for primary school!

    As these are my children and my wife works in town anyway and my mother in law picks them up after school, they probably be better looked after than many.

    The reason for asking is that while my wife and I both work, we will eventually have 4 children at school and $40,000 per year just on school fees is just not sustainable. On the other hand I could have left our kids in the local school which on the two visits the teachers had a class of 30+ and spent at least 75% of the time on crowd control.

    St Marks has a good number of “ethnic” students – given that my children are 2 of them.

    Talking with many of the parents, they will also struggle with the increases in fees. We were wanting to know if the extra you pay to move to a “Good” suburb is worth it, in terms of schools actual performance rather than snob value.

    For those that mention ERO reports – I’ve found them to be written in beaurcratic speak and find it difficult to interpret, actual parent comments can help balance out the ERO reports.

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  21. Batman (97 comments) says:

    FOST: if you feel like staying in the Hutt then I would highly reccomend sending your kids to Muritai School in Eastbourne, i went there and it was fantastic, and still is by all accounts. all four of my siblings went there and well all came out alright; this is recent, the youngest of us left in 2004.

    If you want to move into Wellington then I would suggest either Karori Normal, Kelburn Normal, or Wadestown school. they are all public and turn out very good/bright kids by and large. By and large private/independent schools are not worth it, it totally depends on the standards of the school and the type of kid. Wellington College is a good example. whereas Scots College has just had a run of kids being caught dealing drugs and alcohol/driving offences.

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  22. berend (1,631 comments) says:

    BeaB: Don’t get carried away berend.

    I suggest you contact the Independent Schools of New Zealand. Their members will be so relieved to hear from you that their claim is completely unfounded:

    ISNZ will be sending the Minister of Education the attached statement drawing
    her attention to the possible unintended impact of three clauses relating to
    the registration of private schools: 35B, 35F and 35L. Each of the clauses
    appears to remedy proper concerns of the state. However, they empower
    officials to make determinations act against schools and their communities on
    the sole basis of those officials’ untested opinions. In two cases it is the
    Secretary for Education who is empowered to act in isolation without any
    requirement to consult or have his or her opinion tested, and in the other it
    could be a single officer of the Education Review Office.

    Trust me, they will be sol relieved to hear from you.

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  23. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    Fost All you need is the decile, believe me. You need that critical mass of middle class families, not too many children of blondes (the curse of private schools) and some great teachers. Only around 4% of kids attend private schools so it is still the case in NZ that outstanding teachers find excellent career paths in state schools.

    In my view you are far better spending your after-tax dollars on family activities, travel and books. Give your kids a rich life at home, show them their parents love and care for each other and them, have lots of fun and music and shared experiences and then school will just be the icing on a very good cake.

    I believe our excellent public school system is one of the jewels in our national crown so go and make full use of it.

    And try not to hover anxiously. You are the first and best influence on your kids and if you have a reasonable IQ they probably will have too and will do well.

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  24. Fost (100 comments) says:

    Having been brought up by good parents, but attending definately low decile but good primary school myself – Waiwhetu School – I am relucant to use decile as the be-all-and-end-all measure of school value. The reason for private was more the extra teachers/smaller class size that they provide and the poor quality of the schools (which have a reange od deciles) in the area we live.

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  25. Fost (100 comments) says:

    Our choice of private school came from our reaction to actual visits of the public schools we would have been able to send them to. We also will not send them to a catholic school or allow the children to be split up – so single gender schools – which seem to be the majority of private schools were not considered.

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  26. dave (985 comments) says:

    St Brigids school in Johnsonville is a fantastic school: Good teachers, good ERO reports, good BoT.

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  27. kiwigunner (213 comments) says:

    Decile is no indicator of whether a school is ‘good’ or not. Quite the contrary, low decile schools often have far more passionate teachers – this is an indicator. My advice – go and visit the local schools. Talk to the Principal and visit classrooms – you will know quickly enough if this is the school that is right for you and your children.

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  28. first time caller (384 comments) says:

    QMC and Scots are both very good schools and I disagree with anyone who says they aren’t.

    But in saying that there is absolutely no substitute for the extra reinforcement from home. Kids learn by example, so reading with them as much as you can, and letting them see you reading at every opportunity is a great start. Try to encourage really good study habits with time limits. Just paying the extra for private schooling sadly doesn’t get a parent out of the hard work needed to get them through schooling!

    I’m sure they’ll be fine where ever you send them!

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  29. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    I went to Naenae school followed by the Greta Garbo academy :) for primary.

    “whereas Scots College has just had a run of kids being caught dealing drugs and alcohol/driving offences.”

    George Painton (related to Shelley you know) was biology master then.

    Got him to evaluate our homebrew vodka.

    All he could say after quaffing a glass was:

    “Yet not devoid of rapture’s mingled tear:
    A balm was in the poison of the sting.
    This aged sufferer for many a year
    Had never felt such comfort.: :)

    Passed biology with flying colours. :)

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  30. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    Try Wainuiomata. Well that’s Trev’s haunt and as a past Minister he would have made certain that his electorate schools were well sorted.
    Oh he did. People left and he closed them.
    Oh Dear.
    Better not Wainui then.

    Went to Waterloo and HVHS. HVHS had a sado masochist for HM. Ramson. Belligerent Bible basher. Still survived the terror and his cane. Looks like its performance has gone way downhill since then.
    Hey we had queer buggers for teachers even then. Even a kidi fidler. Funny never trusted the bastard Bain, but they got him in the end.

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  31. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    We had the Reverend Dr. Pirie as school chaplain at Scots V2.

    A complete and utter piece of shit.

    I vowed to kill the turd on leaving day.

    The arsehole left before I did.

    Divine intervention I guess. :)

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  32. Trevor Mallard (245 comments) says:

    YesWeDid @ 3.22 gets it. Then interview two or three schools. Ask for their aSStle progress results to make sure they are adding value. But thing to remember is that in NZ variation within schools is much larger than variation between schools

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  33. Johnboy (14,911 comments) says:

    “But thing to remember is that in NZ variation within schools is much larger than variation between schools”

    So what you are saying then Trev is that all our schools are tending to fail a lot of their students on an equal basis.

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  34. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    All the Northern Suburbs primary schools from Otari through Johnsonville are brilliant. apart from one over in Paparangi ( I think which had a kiddy fiddler for a headmaster now up on charges dating back to 1975) Even that school may be outstanding but I couldn’t trust a school staff or community that couldn’t see what what was going on for so long. If no one knew what was going on, they may be all nutters.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3012586/Shocked-parents-support-Rewa-Rewa-School
    Johnsonville School which my oldest son attends just received an awesome ERO report. You wouldn’t feel like you’d get better out of a private school. A lot comes back to the principal as others have said. They set the tone for the school and keep the team going. From what I can tell you don’t get hopeless teachers, only hopeless principals. Apparently ERO is well aware of which principals are shocking but the public wouldn’t know. We ‘interviewed’ Wellesley (nobby private Eastbourne school but awesome by the looks and hopefully my boys will get a couple of intermediate years there to improve their manners), Otari Wilton, Khandallah, West Park and Johnsonville. We chose Johnsonville because the principal was obviously passionate about learning. He discussed the latest educational techniques with us. Khandallah and Otari also impressed us and I know West Park is well regarded at the Ministry but wouldn’t have suited my boys so well I don’t think.
    The rest of the recipe comes down to the community which is why decile relates to educational outcome.
    http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/indicators/education_and_learning_outcomes/qualifications/1781
    Look for a really active Home and School or parent organisation, you can ask about their funding and activities track record. If parents care they will be doing stuff and your child will benefit.

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  35. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    Fuuny thing these schools. Round about where I live there are 3. one higher decile, one medium and one low. The lowest one gets the most funds and good results. the medium one is doing good with slightly less money but very similar kids and the high decile one is full of kids from broken marriages, kids of parents struggling to earn enough to pay the mortgage and of the forth school is slightly more country and has a great school. Not sure their funding but the nicest kids come from the common garden type schools. Not the one with the highest decile rating. Funny that!
    Tell us something.

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  36. Gavfaemonty (61 comments) says:

    Trevor / Johnboy – Trevor’s right, and I think NZ may even have the lowest between-school differences in the EOCD. Means (amongst other things) that the choice of teacher is more important than elsewhere, and the choice of school less so. Shame we can’t see performance information for teachers (yet) and have to rely on third-hand judgements from other parents.

    Monique – on the Wilton to J’ville corridor I understand that Ngaio just received a very, very good ERO report.

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  37. Anthony (766 comments) says:

    Ngaio school served us well for our three kids.

    Of course you always get some teachers who aren’t really up to the job and its a pity the Principal can’t easily get rid of them.

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  38. Simon Lyall (100 comments) says:

    As a few others have suggested take a good look at some of the local schools or perhaps those just a little further away. The other thing is that since you are able to afford $20k/year on their education take a good look at a tutor for a few hours each week.

    An experienced teacher/tutor will be able to spot the areas where this school/student is failing and will tell you right away/fix it rather than finding out too late from the school. Get a teacher you know to refer somebody, get references, interview other clients etc.

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  39. Dave Stringer (182 comments) says:

    I can readily recommend Churton Park School.

    My children went to Private Prep-schools in England, great beginnings as their focus was on teaching how to learn
    My eldest grandson is at Churton Park (State run) primary and is getting a just as good, if not better, grounding in the same focus. HAving just finished year 1 he is reading some of our old Enid Blyton books fluently, and can write basic sentences – a GREAT start after just nine months in my opinion.

    Check out their ERO reports on-line, you won’t be surprised to see how well they scored if you look at the demographic of the suburb.

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  40. Rick Rowling (801 comments) says:

    Muritai all the way.

    I’m sure there are kids there from elsewhere in the Hutt, so probably no need to move if s/he doesn’t mind the commute to drop off.

    Great school, great campus, great teachers.

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  41. RRM (9,428 comments) says:

    I assume DPF that your friend is not ideologically opposed to state education?

    Ours is at Kelburn Normal and doing really well, reading at a level of a child twice her age after less than two years of formal schooling. We have found Kelburn excellent and would highly recommend them.

    {We are not in a position where private schooling for ours is an option. But plenty of her classmates have parents who would have no difficulty in paying any amount of fees, if they felt the socialist state education was at all lacking.} :-)

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  42. Michael (894 comments) says:

    The most widely well regarded school in Lower Hutt is Sts Peter and Paul. Only problem is to get in you have to be Catholic and in zone, or Catholic and out of zone/non-Catholic in zone and willing to chase a very small number of places.

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  43. Fisiani (944 comments) says:

    If the child is a girl then Samuel Marsden primary school in Karori is easily the best option. Superb staff and a great peer group.

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