Charter Schools Perception Series: The Students

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School. -Photo

When I visited Mt Hobson, South Auckland and West Auckland Middle School my son took the photos and my daughter ( Miss Whaleoil ) interviewed the students. The questions she asked were written by her as I wanted a student’s perspective. Many of her questions were closed yes/no questions unfortunately but she did manage to gain a reasonable snap shot of what the students of all three schools think about their school. ( Mt Hobson is not a Charter school but is the original model on which South and West Auckland Middle school are based.)

Rather than write a question and answer for each individual student interviewed, under each question you will find a range of replies have been labelled A) B) C) etc so you can tell one student’s answers from another ones. Some students were not asked all of the questions.

I have written the students’ replies as they were given, including slang and incomplete sentences.

West Auckland Middle School PHOTO- Middle School West Facebook page

West Auckland Middle School
PHOTO- Middle School West Facebook page

Do you prefer this school to other schools you have been to?

A) Yes definitely. It is much different you can tell like, it is a higher learning here than in other public schools.

B) Ah yeah, I prefer this much over both schools I have gone to. It’s a lot more friendlier here. There is more friendly people that you can get on with well.

C) Yes I do because at other schools there haven’t been very nice people there whereas in this school since it is small there aren’t as much bullies at this school which I am glad about.Compared to my other school I think its really good one because there are less people here and you are getting along well with people inside your year and outside of your year.

D) Yeah because it provides more opportunities and the teachers are very supportive.

E) Yes

F) Yes because academically the levels are higher than my previous schools.

G) Yep? H) Yep I do. I) Yes? J) Yeah

K) I like my old school

L) Yeah

Is there anything you have learned here that you didn’t learn in other schools?

A) Heaps. One thing,Technology and Science as in general.

B) Yeah I’ve learned a lot of stuff over the past couple of years here, I’ve been here since year seven. I was struggling at RI cause the teachers weren’t, I couldn’t get much help from them and it is a lot easier here cause you get one on one time with the teachers.

D) Yeah. E) Yes F) Yes G) Heaps

H) Yeah, like better learning and I understand more.

I) A lot, like, things in Maths and Science I haven’t learned at other schools, cause more advanced here than my other schools.

J) Yeah

K) Different types of Maths? I had never learned before.

L) Yes

What do you like about this school?

A) It is much smaller so the teacher actually gets to check my work and I actually gained more confidence than I lost over the years that I have been here.

C) I like the small classes, I like that you are more likely to get your work done cause there is no way to distract you.

D) The environment that you are in is usually safe and yeah.

E) I like that it has small class sizes and so like the teachers have time to go to everyone.

F) I like the teachers are helpful and like they help you whenever you need help. The studies are like challenging so.

G) That um If you are new that …all of your friends.. I have some of my friends from my old school come here and that makes me feel like not too shy.

H) They break down things for us and it’s like they, it’s very good preparation for the next years that are coming especially for year eleven.

J) I like how classes are smaller compared to other schools.

K) There are independent ( work areas )

L) It’s fun

Is there anything you don’t like about this school?

A) Mmmmm no.

C) No not really, it is a bit small but since it is a small school what can you expect?

D) No actually.

E) Not really

F) Surprisingly no.

H) Not really, I think it’s a pretty cool school.

I) Yes

J) Nah

K) Not really, just that the breaks aren’t that long

L) No

How long have you been here?

A ) Since year seven.

C) I only joined this year cause I moved here from England.

D) I have been here for one year and a term.

E) About a year.

F) I only started this year. I first came to the school being shy but the teachers are supportive so kind of helped me get over that.

G) A year and a term

H) A year. I was shy at the start but now I am not shy.

I) A year and a month. I kinda felt a bit odd ( at the start ) because the teaching was a little bit different to other schools but then I kinda got used to it.

J) The whole of last year and the beginning of this year. ( At the start ) I thought it was a bit weird because the school is so tiny.

K) Since the first day of school.

L) A few months.

Since you have been here have your grades improved?

A) Definitely, especially my P.A.T tests.

B) At the end of the year here my grades went from Achieved all the way to Merit and Excellence.

C) I have learned quite a few new things like Space, which I found quite interesting. So I would say that my grades would have improved.

D) Ah yeah, yeah. E) Yes F) Yep G) Yes heaps H) Yes a lot. I) Yes

J) Yeah, majorly.

K) Yes, sorta the same.

L) Yes

Would you recommend this school to a friend?

A) Definitely.

B) Yeah I’d? recommended it to a couple of friends. It is mainly based around an area like to help people who have learning disabilities.

C) Yes I would if they are like getting bullied a lot or aren’t happy, I would recommend this school.

D) Yeah. E) Yes F) Yes G) Yep I) Yes definitely J) Yep.

K) Not really

L) Yes

Did your parents decide to send you here or did you have a choice?

A) I had a choice between here and R I. When I came here for an interview I was actually very impressed with the whole Technology, Science, English, Social Studies.

B) I didn’t want to stay at the school that I? was at before and my parents found this school and so it was my own choice yeah.

D) It was kind of both. Yeah my parents wanted me to go here.

E) It was a bit of both, my parents found out about it and told me about it then they gave me the choice.

F) A bit of both

G) My parents decided.

H) My parents decided.

J) I didn’t really want to go to school because I was home schooled but they told me to come so I was like, oh, Okay.

K) I got to choose by my Mum

L) I got to pick

How did you find out about this school?

A) Well my brother is quite talkative, he had a friend called XX who went to this school. They became friends and that’s how my parents found out and then I got offered a place here also.

B)? I found out about it when we were at a meeting. My Mum found out about it first, I don’t know how she found out about it.

C) Well when we were planning on moving here I was shown a bunch of schools and since I found out about this school that like had classes are very small where I would be able to get on with my work better and get along well with everybody.

D) I think my Mum read the newspaper.

E) I think my Mum read about it in the newspapers.

F) I found out from my friend.

G) My Uncle is friends with one of the staff to the school.

H) I just drove past and saw it.

I) My Mum works nearby and she found out about it.

J) We drove past it

K) My Mum found it.

L) My parents found out about it

Are the teachers nice?

A) Yes, XXXX is my favourite but don’t tell Mr XXX ( laughter )

B) Yes they are very nice you get a lot of one on one time with them which really helps you if you are struggling with your learning.

C) Oh yeah the teachers are nice, they support you when you need help they also sometimes make jokes. You can have a laugh with them which is really good.

D) Yeah, they really help us a lot when we need help and they are supportive.

E) Yes F) Yes G) Yep H) Yeah I) Yes J) Yeah

K) Sometimes. They are not nice always.

L) Yes

Have you ever been bullied here?

A) No.

B) No it is a really friendly environment here and there is not a lot of bad things going on around here.

D) No. E) No F) No G) No

H) Not really I) No

K) Yes

L) No

How do teachers deal with bullying if there ever is any?

A) Usually they would get either suspended or sent out the front for a long time like at lunch, morning tea, or they get separated from the classes.

B) They would probably have, they would suspend the student or put them in the front office for a while to teach them.

D) They would usually go to Miss XXX and they would get like positive feedback on what they should do.

E) When they find out who’s involved and that how it started or if it is something major they will really deal with it but if it is something minor like for example someone taking someone’s pencil they will deal with it in a simple way. Not too harsh.

H) They are really strict about it.

J) They are really good they have zero tolerance for bullying

K) They get the ( inaudible ) students

L) They send the bully up to the Principal

If you ask the teachers for help do they help or do they ignore you?

A) Oh they help, even in projects.

B) They help you and they give you the friendliest response they can and help you as much as possible.

D) They help us. E)? They help. F) They help

G) They would help yeah.

H) If they hear you, they help.

I) They always help

J) They help us, they help you.

K) Help you sometimes if they are really listening

L) They help us

Have you ever been yelled at for something very minor?

A) No teachers don’t need to yell the classes are way too small.

B) No D) No E) Nah F) No

G) Not recently no.

I) Not me.

J) No

K) At this school? No not really

L) No

Do you like the Principal?

A) Mr Poole is quite nice actually, sometimes when we are good he brings Pizza.

B) Yeah sometimes he can be very very nice and sometimes he can be very very grumpy.

D) Yes E) Yes F) Yes

G) Yes I like the Principal

H) Yeah I) Yes J) Yeah K) Yeah L) Yes

Does the Principal know your name?

A) Mr Poole knows our names for sure. First and last and middle names that I know some of us have probably.

B) Yes D) Yep. E) Yes F) Yes G) Yep H) Yes I) Yes J) Yeah K) Yes L) Yes


South Auckland Middle school students Photo-South Auckland Middle School Facebook page

?Miss Whaleoil’s perception of the schools:

I liked Mt Hobson, South Auckland and West Auckland Middle schools. They had a really nice feel to them.Quite a few of the kids I interviewed were co-operative but a bit shy. A lot of the answers to the questions I had were very similar.

I liked the class sizes, there were not too many and not too few. In the classrooms it was quiet and people were getting their work done.The staff were kind. A lot of the kids were very proud of their school. We met a kid from a home school that I used to attend that closed down the end of last year. He had made friends and seemed a lot calmer and more co-operative.

South Auckland Middle School’s building I liked because it was two stories. Most Primary and Intermediate schools are one story and really spread out but if they built the classes up then they would have more room and it would be less of a maze for the students. When I attended Macleans it was a giant annoying maze. I had to consult a map when there was a change and even then the maps were really out of date. South Auckland Middle School was simple and compact and they had a lot of outdoor space. All the kids presented themselves really well, they were all neat and tidy.

West Auckland Middle School: There are no teacher's desks in classrooms as teachers are expected to be moving around helping the students. -Photo

West Auckland Middle School: There are no teacher’s desks in classrooms as teachers are expected to be moving around helping the students.

I liked how the teachers did not have desks as that stops them from being alienated from the students. I think it would have been a lot easier for me to have attended one of these schools when I was that age. I think it would have been a lot easier for me to make friends there and to get the help I needed. One of the things I hated at my old school was being ignored by the teacher which is why I asked that question. Also one thing that has stuck in my mind from my primary school days was being yelled at by a teacher for not knowing my three times tables, which is why I asked that question about being yelled at.