A charter school

John Roughan writes in the NZ Herald:

 A small Remuera private school points the way for innovative teaching in low-decile areas too

This week I saw a charter school. Mt Hobson Middle School is in Remuera where plenty of parents can afford its $12,000 annual fee and $900 of sundry charges, but it wants to offer the same education to kids in West Auckland. …

Ten years ago he and wife Karen sold their house to set up this private school for what he calls project-based learning.

As best as I could understand it, they teach all the subjects in New Zealand’s required curriculum through 32 projects, such as plants, animals, architecture, great books, a foreign language …

Under those themes each class has visiting speakers and gets out a great deal to see the knowledge in real life. 

I’m not qualified to judge the merits of this. I can see how geometry might be taught through architecture but maths in plants escapes me.

Then again, it doesn’t sound very different from methods outlined in national curriculum documents these days.

Poole says it is not very different but reckons that under state control he couldn’t do what he is doing. Something to do with “structures” and “inertia”.

Outcomes are more important than structures.

Poole says he does not select the students, “first in, first served”.

He says they have a normal range of ability but almost all do well. He claims a 95 per cent pass rate in Level 1 NCEA when they go on to high schools.

Not too bad.

He had a second school in Parnell for a while and another based on the model has opened at Upper Hutt.

The next, with charter funding, could be in West Auckland. He has approached the Waipareira Trust with a proposal for a joint application under the trial that Act negotiated with National in its coalition agreement.

Poole believes that funding at the level state schools receive ($8500 a child, he thinks) would enable him to do most of what he does for $14,400 in Remuera because overheads in the West would be lower.

So it would be free, not a private school.

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