At this school’s athletics event the High Jump would have no bar.

I read a piece on Stuff this morning titled: I read a piece on Stuff this morning titled: Poor attendance and low NCEA results but parents are lining up to get children into alternative school

Here are some “highlights”:

Students can choose what they study and attendance is almost half the regional average

Less than 20 per cent of year 12 students regularly attended Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery in term 1, while across the whole school it was under 40 per cent. The national average was 68.5 per cent. [Atrocious in itself.]

Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery is a state-funded special character school, and despite its unconventional approaches to teaching is hugely popular.

Based in a purpose-built $30 million building in Mollett St, the school has a maximum role of 670, from year 1 to 13.

She said non-attendance “is a concern because of the link between attendance and achievement”, but the school’s special character means “students are central in directing their own learning” and can “learn any time and anywhere”.

The system of self-directed learning means years 7 to 13 students can opt in to five timetabled classes a week, or none.

The percentage with level 3 or above was below the regional (59.3 per cent) and national (59.1 per cent) figures.

Students with NCEA level 3 or above were:

  • 2018 – 24 (40.7 per cent)
  • 2019 – 24 (38.1 per cent)
  • 2020 – 17 (25.8 per cent)

Helen Hurst, deputy secretary of sector enablement and support at the MoE, said “If regular attendance data for Ao Tawhiti starts to show high levels of unjustified absence and concerns about student achievement then we will identify what additional supports the school may need.” [How low would attendance and achievement need to go for the MoE to care?]


This school costs the taxpayer nearly $6m per year in operational costs, salaries and building maintenance plus another $1.5 million interest on $30m.

At least I now have more understanding of why the Ministry has currently turned down our Villa Education Trust application for a 480 student Designated Character school near a transport hub in Auckland.

We promised the wrong things:

– at least 90% of students fully attending.

– Level 1 NCEA being achieved at over 90% and UE at 60%.

– Well taught courses and high quality project work that extend the full NZ Curriculum.

– No capital cost to the tax payer through using lease premises.

– No new nett operations/salary costs because the money follows the students for those categories.

We have clearly misunderstood what education in NZ is/was about.

Comments (64)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: