21 Dec 2015

New charter school gets thumbs-up

6:08 pm on 21 December 2015

The Education Review Office (ERO) has given one of the four new charter schools set up this year a positive first report.

Middle School West, Auckland.

Middle School West Auckland in Henderson opened in February 2015 and has about 115 students. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

It said Middle School West Auckland had made a successful start despite significant challenges with staffing and with the shared occupancy of its site in Henderson.

The review office said students at the school were enjoying a model of teaching that supported and challenged them, and there was good provision for children with special needs.

"Students respond positively to teachers' high expectations. The students we talked to were very positive about the school. They reported that they get plenty of individual help from their teachers, and that, while some of the work is hard, they enjoy the challenge and variety of learning in this way."

The report said most of the school's students were at or below the national standards in reading, writing and maths for their age, and a significant proportion had previously been disengaged from learning.

However improved attendance at school "has been a significant and pleasing outcome this year for many of the students," it said.

Middle School West.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The report said strengthening the school's ability to build Māori children's language and culture was an ongoing challenge.

It said the school had 113 students in years 7-10 and they were placed in classes of up to 15 students.

"Students are expected to manage their time and to increasingly personalise how they engage with projects.

"Teachers are aware of the need to support students who may not be familiar with studying independently as they adapt to this way of learning and to using digital technology purposefully for learning."

Middle School West Auckland had a difficult start, with its first principal resigning when it emerged he was the subject of a complaint to the Education Council related to his previous job.

Later in 2015, it emerged some parents were unhappy with the school - but Education Minister Hekia Parata said it was the result of a souring in the school's relationship with a private Māori Christian school with which it was sharing its Henderson site.