Students adjusting to charter school

Whangarei’s first charter school has chosen the name of the star compass that Maori sailors used to navigate the seas to represent their school.

The kura hourua has been named Te Kapehu Whetu. Pouwhakahaere, or principal, Nathan Matthews said the students are settling in to their new school.

“They all seem to be enjoying it. It is challenging for some who have been in mainstream school for three years and this is a bit different,” Mr Matthews said.

The large open-plan learning area can at times have four different lessons going on at once. Yesterday, senior students were in the “lounge” area in the classroom on beanbags and couches for their English class. The teacher stands in front of them with a white board and a smart board while the students brainstorm elements of a story.

Junior students sit in small clusters going over different maths problems while maths teacher Chris McKay, who has 36 years’ experience teaching students in Northland, keeps them focused on the task at hand.

Meanwhile, one student is having some one-on-one tutoring with a teacher going over a lesson at a slower pace in a breakout room off the main learning centre.

“It’s been a good start. There has been a big build up to this and a lot of pressures on us. But it’s paying off when you see the kids,” Mr Matthews said.

He said the parents of students were courageous to trust the new type of school to provide the best education for their kids.

“But they’re also very excited. They see a whole lot of potential.”

Contracts with NorthTec and Te Wananga o Aotearoa will allow students to leave the kura to attend the tertiary providers for specialist subjects after no Whangarei schools would do so.

Eight senior students will take lessons in carpentry, pre-trade engineering, and sport and recreational studies at NorthTec for two days each week. All the junior students will go to Te Wananga o Aotearoa for half a day each week for art lessons and four senior students will do the same for one day each week.


Originally published in the Northern Advocate, Thursday February 20, 2014
Photo: Maths teacher Chris McKay, gives a lesson to junior students from left, Caleb Rawson, Caleb Matthews, Kane Rapana and Tahu Keretene. Photo/John Stone


Charter school receives good report

A Northland charter school which was one of the first in the country appears to have passed its first test with flying colours.

The Education Review Office (ERO) report for Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, released last week, found many areas of the school were doing well and identified just a couple of areas for improvement.

The kura, sponsored by He Puna Marama Charitable Trust, is a co-ed secondary school based in Whangarei that emphasises Maori education.

After initially opening its doors to 50 students on February 27 this year that number grew to 53 students with many more on the waiting list for next year.

The ERO found the kura was committed to providing new and better opportunities for young Maori to succeed.

“School culture is focused on empowering students to develop an approach to learning and knowledge that will allow them to achieve any goal that they set themselves both during their time [at] school and for the rest of their lives,” the report stated.

It was one of five charter schools that opened this year, including another in Northland – Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru. The two Northland charter schools are not connected.

Charter schools are funded by the Government but set their own curriculum, school hours, holidays and pay rates. They were strongly opposed by opposition political parties and teaching unions, but were implemented as part of the National party’s confidence and supply agreement with Act.

The report described the kura’s governance and leadership systems as “robust” and while there were areas for development, ERO said it was confident the kura would be able to address these.

The two main areas for development were the baseline assessments of junior students and more articulated planning of school curriculum to reflect the needs of students.

The kura’s sponsor trust was permitted to open a second charter school, Te Kapehu Whetu (Teina), in Whangarei next year.


Originally published in the Northern Advocate, November 26, 2014
Photo: Principal Nathan Matthews.

Charter school set to expand

A charter school in Whangarei that is at full capacity appears to be going from strength to strength following an announcement that it would also open a primary school next year.

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, located on Lower Dent street, opened its doors on February 23 to 50 students. It has since grown to 53, with a waiting list for next year. The kura, sponsored by He Puna Marama Charitable Trust, is a co-ed secondary school that emphasises Maori education.

It was one of five charter schools, or “partnership” schools, that opened this year, including another in Northland – Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru. The two Northland charter schools that opened this year are not connected.

Last week Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, announced four new charter schools would open in 2015. It included a third for Northland, Te Kapehu Whetu (Teina) in Whangarei, which was also sponsored by He Puna Marama Charitable Trust. The new kura will be a co-ed primary school for years 1-6 located at Jubilee Park, where the trust already has an early childhood facility.

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa principal, Nathan Matthews, said the kura has had positive feedback since it opened this year, which is reflected in its growth.

“I think the Maori nature of the school has probably been appealing, and that’s not to criticise local high schools, but I mean we have a whole school dedicated to that type of thing,” Mr Matthews said. “I think that’s the opportunity some parents were looking for.”

Te reo Maori and Maori performing arts are both compulsory at the kura and there is an emphasis on blending Maori learning into other parts of the curriculum, he said. The school reached full capacity earlier this year and has a waiting list for next year.

Mr Matthews, who has a PhD in Maori education, will initially be principal of both schools. He has been particularly interested in Maori education because of the low achieving statistics with Maori students.

“Thinking about better ways of doing things for Maori kids is something I’ve been researching and writing about for a number of years,” he said.

Charter schools are funded by the Government but set their own curriculum, school hours, holidays and pay rates. They were part of the Act Party’s confidence and supply agreement with the National Party. The system has been criticised by many political parties and teachers’ associations. However, Mr Matthews said the kura gave Maori families another option to mainstream schooling.


Originally published in the Northern Advocate, September 18, 2014
Maori performing arts teacher Ralph Ruka speaks to Sylvia Wano, 15, at Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa. Photo / John Stone

TKW to launch primary school

Te Kāpehu Whetū to create primary school

A charter school is seen as a model of high achievement for families in Whangarei.  After opening its doors as a secondary school only seventh months ago, Te Kāpehu Whetū has now received government support to create a primary school under its umbrella.

They’re a charter school with a focus on immersing their students in the teachings of Ngāpuhi and now they have the support of Government to build a primary school.

With only days until the national election, the voice of the anti-charter school brigade are to the fore again but the principal says the charter school policy has given them the opportunity to create their own educational pathway.

Principal Dr Nathan Matthews says, “Charter schools have the power to determine their curriculum.  At this school, the Māori language and culture are paramount and we follow the directive laid out by Mason Durie and others to be Māori and be leaders.  That’s something that mainstream schools in this city can’t do.”

Called Te Kāpehu Whetū, this school was born from the Academy of A Company of the 28th Māori Battalion.  Now they look ahead to opening a charter school for primary students with a directive from the minister that they must produce.

Dr Nathan Mathews says, “We now have two approved charter schools so the word is to perform to a high level and that’s of utmost importance for all of us at this school and all the charter schools.”


See video here. Originally presented on Te Kaea by Dean Nathan 


Third Northland charter school

Northland is set to have a third charter school after an announcement by the Minster of Education that four new charter schools, or “partnership” schools, would open around the country next year.

Te Kapehu Whetu (Teina), sponsored by He Puna Marama Charitable Trust, will be a co-educational primary school in Whangarei.

Nationally five charter schools opened in February this year, three in Auckland and two in Northland. The trust sponsoring the newest school already sponsors one of the Northland charter schools, Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, a Maori boys’ secondary school in Whangarei.

The second Northland charter school to open this year was Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru secondary school.


Originally published in the Northern Advocate, February 12, 2014

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