Charter school starts every day with a military parade

17:00, May 28 2014
vanguard
STEPPING UP: Students from Vanguard Military School take part in PE and marching exercises at the charter school on Auckland’s North Shore.

Every morning begins with a military parade at one of the country's first charter schools.

Vanguard Military School on Auckland's North Shore opened its doors to 104 year 11 and 12 students - aged about 15 and 16 - this year, and chief executive Nick Hyde said giving teenagers a choice was what kept some in school.

While he admitted a military-style school day was not for everyone, there were plenty who liked the structured and regimented approach.

"Every morning starts with a military parade. So the first 10 minutes of the day are spent waking the students up."

There were four academic lessons until lunch, and then every afternoon was spent doing either physical education or military training. "In my day, I remember having physics followed by maths last thing on a Friday, which was hardly productive.

"This way we get the academic stuff done in the morning, once they've woken up, and the physical aspect happens in the afternoon."

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The school plans to expand to 144 students next year when it includes year 13 students, and a roll of 196 is anticipated in a few years' time.

Vanguard Military School was one of five charter schools that opened at the beginning of this year.

Hyde said the roll was made up of about 25 per cent girls and, while a military career was an option, there was no expectation that students would sign up at the end of school.

"The priority is getting students through NCEA level 2, and we have a number of pathways beyond that into trades, other courses, the military or even university entrance."

He said the flexibility of the timetable worked well for students, and gave some of them a chance to "reinvent themselves".

After two induction days at the start of the year, about four students dropped out, but others travelled two hours a day to attend the school.

English and maths were priority subjects, and the rest of the curriculum was intentionally quite narrow.

"Some schools put $1 million into a hockey turf - we don't. We only teach Maori as a language and don't have French, German or Indonesian, or whatever else other schools might have."

The Dominion Post