New Zealand's largest secondary school lost five teachers
after a charter school was established nearby which could
offer better salaries.
The Labour Party says the situation shows the Government has
created a playing field that's not level between the new
schools and state counterparts, to ensure the controversial
charter or "partnership" schools succeed.
But Vanguard Military School, which now employs the former
Rangitoto College staff, said its challenging new environment
was the main drawcard - not more money. Both schools are on
Auckland's North Shore.
Rangitoto principal David Hodge told the Herald five teachers
had chosen to move to Vanguard at the end of last year.
They took up top positions including the partnership school's
principal, deputy-principal, head of science, head of
mathematics and head of English.
Mr Hodge said some of the salaries at Vanguard, in Albany,
were about $16,000 more than his school could offer.
However, he said movement of staff between schools was normal
and not disappointing. Rangitoto College employs more than
"It's good for [the teachers], isn't it? If that's what they
want, then that's what they're getting. It's a bonus for
Other charter schools have employed experienced teachers
working in their area, but none as many as five from the one
Vanguard chief executive Nick Hyde said opponents of the
partnership school model had complained such schools would be
able to employ non-registered teachers.
The alternative was to recruit teachers from existing
Vanguard's principal, Rockley Montgomery, had been granted an
early release from Rangitoto, for which Mr Hyde said he was
"Rangitoto is a very big school, decile 10. I don't think
David Hodge would have found any difficulty in replacing five
staff ... There would be plenty of people who would want to
work at that school."
Mr Hyde did not know what his staff were paid during their
time at Rangitoto, but said he believed the appeal to change
was not money. Vanguard has nine staff.
"You're dealing with a unique demographic of kids, and there
are a number of staff who wanted to be involved with the
school because their whole reason for being involved in
teaching was to help children."
Labour's education spokesman, Chris Hipkins, has gone on the
attack over charter schools this week, vowing to scrap them
should his party return to power.
He said state and state-integrated schools received average
funding per student of about $7000, but Vanguard received
funding of $19,664 per student this year.
"Robbing good teachers out of one school to put them into a
charter school isn't going to raise the overall standard of
education for all children in New Zealand," Mr Hipkins said.
However, Education Minister Hekia Parata said Labour's
comparison was flawed as it calculated the per student rate
on partnership schools' opening rolls, not that projected
over their possible 18-year contract.
She said if that had been done the funding would be
comparable for state schools with similar characteristics
such as size.
Partnership schools' funding was based partly on their
meeting student achievement outcomes, and they could be shut
down if that did not happen.
Ms Parata said greater accountability came with more
flexibility about how to spend their money.
"In Vanguard, clearly they have chosen staff at a particular
level of salary, because they expect that to deliver
* Students: 2983
* Number of teaching staff: More than 180
* Principal: David Hodge
Vanguard Military School
* Students: 108
* Number of teaching staff: 9
* Principal: Rockley Montgomery.