Some Barriers are Real: Any Ideas?

South Auckland Middle School, Year 7 – 10, was established as a Partnership (Charter School) in 2014. It was started with 5 months’ notice from the Minister and, at the time, no property, no staff, no equipment and no students. The overall start-up fund was approximately 7% of a State School start-up for a similar number of students. It is only allowed 180 students (who go through a police ballot to get in) and has 100 students on the waitlist each year.

Middle School West Auckland was established in a similar manner a year later but was only given 4% of an equivalent State start up because the Ministry told us they had made a mistake and given SAMS too much (7%). Therefore, a bigger school (MSWA can go up 240 and is currently near 200) got less.

We were able to employ an extraordinary staff and used a model based on our Mt Hobson Middle School the villa Education Trust’s private school).

– 15 per class

– 60 per Villa (mini-school)

– an academic morning (4 hours) and an Arts and activities based afternoon

– 32 fully cross-curricula projects get completed over 4 years – alongside core subjects of  English, Maths, Science, Tech, and Social Studies.

– the preparation we can create by having the students for four years in that way means they are getting great Year 11-13 results.

– we provided free uniform, stationery, and IT too so they can save a bit of money on the way.

The results were superb in terms of NCEA upon leaving us (credit to the high schools that allowed our kids to continue to fly), attendance very good, and moving between schools (a huge problem in low decile areas) negligible. Parents have become significantly more engaged with the learning of their children.

They were so good that the highly respected Cognition Education reported:

“In summary we find and conclude that in both schools, the management and staff are actively involved in continuous development, and the delivery, of a unique programme of teaching and learning which is based on a comprehensive ‘local’ curriculum that is aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum, and which provides for the personalised needs of priority learners ‘many of whom have been failed by the current education system.”

Labour dumped the model of course and we were forced to grovel and squeal to get the two schools re-opened at Designated Character Schools.

That left us with three challenges:

1) Maintaining the standards.

– Better than done. The metrics continue to improve both academically and socially.

2) Maintain the provision (class-size and form of the model) even though no longer bulk funded.

– Done through the skill of our team that oversees the finances. It simply shouldn’t be as hard as it is though as there is no educational down-side to the option of bulk-funding for schools. It has also meant that under the collective contract we have been forced to pay staff less and remove benefits such as health insurance.

3) Given that we provide all uniform, stationery, and IT to families that attend our schools they save up to $1,000 a year per child. With the very hard work the children are putting in they are also improving their future earning power and ability to contribute. Therefore, we have sought a bank or financial institution that would recognise all the good is happening here and come in to assist every child to open a back account, teach some financial literacy (even talk housing and kiwisaver) and assist us in improving the future of these children, their families, and our communities.

– Failed: I have now been trying to find a bank/institution for three years. I have even gone to the ones that have the newspaper articles telling the community about some great thing they have done for a child(ren).

Genuinely … help please? This is a good thing that should be happening. I am failing to make progress on it. We want all of these kids to have bank accounts and to leave us with $3,000 that they have worked with their family to save and give them a head-start. Any ideas and connections would be most appreciated.

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