Archive for Uncategorized

Chipping your way into a house

An interesting article in the NZ Herald this morning – yet another piece about how hard it is to get your first house. But this was one story with a difference.

A young man in his twenties had not only bought his first house but also had another rental property. Not bad you might think – rich parents obviously!

But no, his story was simpler.

He decided early on that he wanted to be a builder so he enrolled in a programme which led to an apprenticeship and he was on his way. He attributes the fact that he could “earn while he learned” as something of a key to his entry into the property market. He is modest in not claiming to have also been diligent about saving!

The other string to his success bow perhaps reflects the skills he was developing. When he found he needed more money he  be rejected by those who”got a second job.” This will no doubt be rejected by those that this is simply not possible. But it seems that it was because he had marketable skills.

He noted that others were off travelling or still working into and through university while he was making his way in the world.

It was something of a testimony to the value of technical skills and training that leads more quickly into work and therefore into an income. Often the anecdotes are about how those with higher education qualifications earn more than those with what are thought to be “lower qualifications”. But stories such as this one show that  this is not always the best way.

“Earn while you learn” – it seems something of a glib slogan but when it can be done and when it is done the results can be good for everyone. Of course, a set of personal qualities that allow for some energetic commitment to hard work is also quite helpful.

It made for a different story and a different take on the difficulties of getting into the property market. Get skills then take them into the market.

 

 

Moving sideways in order to go forward

Sometimes policy, both formal and informal, attempts to act at something of a distance from the world in which it has an impact.

There currently is a “policy” that students enrolling in a Youth Guarantee place in a tertiary institution should be in a programme that is not at the same level as the qualification they already have. In theory that sounds right and proper.

Youth guarantee places are available to students between the ages of 16 years and 19 years. It continues the entitlement that New Zealand students have to a “free education” until the age of 19 years addressing the anomaly that schools for a very long time had the monopoly on provision in the 16 – 19 year space with regard to free education. The YG places provision goes a little further and provides a travel allowance. This pathway is not a universal one – it is capped and additional conditions apply.

One such condition is the restriction placed on a student repeating a Level 1 or Level 2 course if they already have NCEA Level 1 or Level 2 regardless of the subjects that might involve.. And herein lies a problem.

Orwell declared that “All pigs are created equal but some are more equal than others!.” We might suggest that “All NCEA Level 2 achievements are useful but some are more useful than others.”

Quite often the student has a NCEA Level 2 for which they have worked hard but which is inadequate preparation for the pathway they wish to pursue when they pick up the opportunity to continue their education in a Youth Guarantee place.

It is not yet the case that the Vocational Pathways development has led to a situation in which the pathways become the basis for student decision making with regard to courses in schools nor have they yet become a set of organising principles for curriculum. Add to that the stubborn difficulty that seems to continue in providing adequate career counselling and advice, and the students are left with little choice.

In order to move forward some students must first move sideways. They need to make a horizontal adjustment in their knowledge and skills if they are to proceed smoothly along the pathway of their choice. This seems to be more of an issue at Level 2 rather than at other levels.

And yet politicians continue to ask questions in the House putting a complexion on this issue which suggests it is a sinful act on someone’s part. Far from it, it is typically and simply, evidence of good decisions being made about what constitutes a robust pathway for a student. In time both sides of the secondary / tertiary divide will get better at synchronising programmes and students will have access to information and opportunity to spot the pathways earlier.

Making the horizontal adjustment seems a much better option than failure.

 

Investing in student futures

Stuart Middleton

EdTalkNZ

16 August 2016

 

 

It is looking as if the teacher organisations are simply allergic to any discussion about school funding. Mention funding and any changes as to how funding is currently delivered and they break out in a rash of anger, predictions of doom, and greatly exaggerated accounts of the impact of any change.

The logic is clear. The schooling system is bringing success to a good proportion of the students who attend schools and there are incremental improvements to the groups that have not been traditionally well-served. Further improvements in student outcome will require the school system to work differently. To work differently funding will need to be delivered differently so as to be more flexible and managed closer to the student, their needs and their aspirations rather than be squirted out in a formulaic manner centrally.

The argument is persuasive. We have been dining out on our “self-managing” school system for nearly thirty years but have yet to allow Boards of Trustees to have a real responsible role in managing the key resource – funding.

The teaching organisations can’t have it both ways. It simply doesn’t cut it to be nervous about schools based on a different model of funding (e.g. charter schools, independent schools etc. for instance) which allows them to work differently while at the same time blocking changes in the state school system that might also allow the state schools to work differently. The role of charter schools (still in its early days in this country) have across the world been given space in which to emerge largely through the performance and rigidity of the respective state schooling systems. This of course is a little less clear in Scandinavia and Europe where the state systems of schooling have flexibility, a greater ability to reflect individual student need and multiple pathways to achieving outcomes we envy.

Allowing some funding to follow students is the next step – in fact it is already happening. On the one hand with Trades Academies at Year 12 (Level 2 – a 4 day + 1 day model) it is managed professionally and without heat between the schools and the ITPs. On the other hand with the Year 13 (Level 3 – a 3 day + 2 day model) will be funded on a simpler model where schools will receive 60% of the funding for the student who will be at school three days a week and the ITP will receive 40% of the funding it would normally receive from a full time enrolment.

Once again, New Zealand makes progress through a simple solution to issues which have dogged other jurisdictions for a long time – especially North America. It solves the issue of trying to work across the boundary of two dissimilar funding methods.

And guess what? These developments will result in increased school rolls and the more astute school leaders understand that 80% or 60% of a student’s funding entitlement is better that 80% or 60% of a disengaged student who is not on the roll. These flexibilities are keeping students in school, returning those facing possible disengagement and exciting those who might be incipiently disenchanted.

The prediction I made when developing the MIT Tertiary High School was that the Multiple Pathways approach would be a powerful tool to keep students in education and training. The changes made to the Education Act at that time have allowed the Youth Guarantee Policy to flourish and that prediction is being confirmed by the evidence in our part of the world.

So, let’s have that discussion about funding understanding that it could lead to increased retention in the schools, higher levels of successful outcomes for students and a better future for many of our young people.

It is said that some allergies can be psychosomatic.

 

Housing, transport and schooling

 

All last week the NZ Herald produced another of its blockbuster page-after-page coverage of a key topic. This time the target was Primary Education.

This made a welcome relief for those of us suffering from AHSFS (Auckland House Shortage Fatigue Syndrome) which is a regular both for full-blast coverage and for other – it seems daily – shots fired through single articles. The full rotation is completed by the ongoing saga of that complaint called Auckland Traffic Congestion, a nasty complaint that strikes citizens usually twice a day and for which no cure has been found and an epidemic seems inevitable.

I wonder if it has occurred to the NZ Herald and to others that these three stories – schooling, housing and traffic are perhaps one and the same issue?

Take schooling for instance. When you see Auckland smiling for no obvious reason it is because it is school holidays and the transport system runs quite smoothly without congestion at the level it is during term time. Why does schooling create this increase in traffic?

I suggest that there are three reasons. First, following the disappearance of a young girl walking to school back in the 1980s it became quickly and seriously thought that it was now unsafe for children to walk to school. So driving the children to school has become something of a norm. Valiant volunteer parents manage a number of “Walking School Buses” but the majority descend on the schools in SUVs of military proportion.

Being outside many schools at the start and end of the day is not a pretty experience.

The second reason is that in desperation parents seek out the “best schools” regardless of where they live. Of course this requires a logic that ignores the fact that if they went to the local school, that school would be better! It also requires that our roads become clogged right when everyone is getting to work. This quest for Nirvana Primary is something created by real estate agents and to quite some degree the schools themselves.

Thirdly, despite the heavy emphasis on cycle lanes and the need to get out of cars, young people cycle less than at any time in the past one hundred years. Up until the 1970s nearly everyone cycled to school in the towns, the rest walked.  I saw a report yesterday that claimed that only 4% now cycled to school and that is certainly not where I live!

The housing shortage is in part the result of the quest to be housed in an area where there is a “good” school” (see above) and the premium of $1,000,000 and up from there to get into a Decile 10 area is a key driver in the scramble.

It is ironic that a house in Otara is attracting no buyers even though there is an excellent Decile 10 school nearby – the MIT Tertiary High School which produces NCEA results indistinguishable from Decile 10 schools. That aside, there are also clear indications that schooling is not the only factor – nostalgia is fairly prominent, nostalgia for the times when the quarter acre section was the God-given right of all. Related to this is the fact that antagonism towards the notion of intensive housing and high rise apartments despite the fact that every large city I have ever visited anywhere has found it necessary to head in these directions. Sprawl and fight to get back into the city centre on choked roads wins the day.

Of course our shape as a city is unhelpful for planning transport systems. The narrow waist line as the Tamaki river heads towards the Manukau Harbour provides challenges and it is a certainty that one day we shall simply have to build bridges over it and bore tunnels under it.

Intensive housing areas built on the fringes are hopeless unless they are accompanied by responses in schooling and transport. We need only look to Christchurch to see what happens when significant housing is supplied without an increase in arterial routes, both the number and the size.

So perhaps the NZ Herald could start to promote thinking about the spaces between the big issues of housing, schooling and transport that have been well and truly thrashed in a somewhat mistaken belief that each has a life of its own.


 

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Te Ara Whakamana is New Zealand’s largest forum dedicated to education and employment pathways and transitions.  Now in its sixth year, this event brings together educators from both secondary and tertiary sectors, industry representatives, policymakers, and researchers to share good ideas and practices, and to be challenged by different perspectives.

Earlybird registrations are open now.

Go to:   https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/tearawhakamana2016 

Steering the education system (and the car!)

Stuart Middleton

EdTalkNZ

9 December 2015

 In 1962 when I went to get my driver’s licence a uniformed traffic cop hopped into the car and said “Ok, let’s see what you can do!” Once around a city block which included pulling into and out of a parking space and clearly I had done enough. Sitting in the car I was asked three questions, a paper was signed and I set off to the counter to collect my driver’s licence.

It seems a long time ago now, but back in the late 1990’s I was actively promoting NCEA in any way possible and, as Director of Secondary Teacher Education at the Auckland College of Education, one of these ways was to hold a lecture for the secondary teaching intake in which I set out to explain and illustrate the differences between the “old examination system” and the “new standards-based system”

I invited the students to consider a situation in which the practices of the norm-referenced examination system – that long running stable of tired nags, School Certificate, UE / Sixth Form Certificate and Bursary – were applied to the gaining of a driver’s licence.

In a norm-referenced qualification and examination system the gaining of a driver’s licence would look something like this:

  • There would be an examination about the Rode Code, driving on New Zealand roads and perhaps about safety issues. The question would not be known prior to the examination and copies of previous examinations would not be available.
  • The examination for everyone would take place on the same day in an assigned place.
  • Because of the numbers involved and despite the practical nature of driving a car, it would be a written examination – a test about driving a car rather than a test in which the car was actually driven – after all real examinations require fool-proof security!
  • The papers would all be marked by panels of teachers.
  • Despite the actual quality of the examinees, the results would be scaled to produce a lovely curve in which about half passed and about half failed.
  • Many of those who failed might well have been able to drive a car and a group of those who passed might not have been able to – the whole exercise was not about recognizing actual skill or ability that reflected driving skills etc but rather making a statistical guess.

I was thrilled therefore yesterday when Minister of Education Hon Hekia Parata and Assoc. Minister of Transport Hon Craig Foss jointly announced that students could gain NCEA credits for getting their drivers license – 25 years after I had used the example of getting drivers license as a great illustration of the principles of standards-based assessment, it was happening.

Students would….

  • get credit for what they could demonstrate;
  • be able to learn a clearly prescribed knowledge set about driving and be tested on what they had been taught;
  • have access to assessment any where, anytime for anyone;
  • able to gather the total credit available incrementally.

It might be too big a claim to say that the 30 year development of understanding about standards—based assessment had turned a corner. But it is a very small but very significant step for the system to take.

Perhaps another fact that has not been commented on is that the assessment will not be the responsibility of teachers in schools predominantly quality-assured experts in the community will give the tick. Practising experts in the appropriate field will accredit the skills and knowledge demonstrated. This opens up other possibilities.

There is a growing interest in the use of a “passport” to acknowledge the so-called soft skills of employment. Typically this is an assurance from a wide range of different people in different places that an individual has demonstrated a set of skills, dispositions and attributes. It is something that could with a little more codifying lend itself to the gaining of NCEA credits where appropriate.

Indeed it is the application of skills and knowledge gained in school programmes but subsequently applied in real world settings that matters. As this increasingly happens for school students, the school system along a track on which increased numbers of students will find relevance, purpose and excitement.

I have long felt that the introduction of NCEA was likely to be the only paradigm shift in education that my generation of teachers will experience. “Paradigm” is a word that is tossed around with some abandon among academics but it is an event that happens very rarely and has happened seldom in education. An important part of a “paradigm shift” is the period of uncertainly that develops as practice moves away from the comfort of the old ways of working. Gradually a new way of working emerges and the new paradigm is made more manifest. Confidence grows and the new ways of working flourishes.

Is the rapid development of secondary / tertiary programmes, the increasing erosion of the walled sectors, the expansion of different forms of funding and governance of schools, the power shifts of the new pedagogy and, in a small but important way, this cross-boundaries use of our qualification and assessment system reflected in the NCEA credit for driving licences, a sign that we might be turning a corner?

That traffic cop in 1962 was right – let’s see what they can do and give them credit.

 

Facing the New World Cautiously: Hobsonville and NCEA

Stuart Middleton

EDTalkNZ

1 December 2015

There was a rather troubling article in the weekend papers. It was about the “bold” move of Hobsonville Point Secondary School to do away with NCEA Level 1.

Now let’s be clear, this school is clearly setting a high standard in its commitment to the new pedagogy and in its comfort in giving to students a higher degree of responsibility for their learning. It is innovative in its use of space and in all respects seems to be pushing the direction of secondary education towards a much more positive set of outcomes than is typical. So, all power to their bow for this.

If I could be a little more mischievous. I read reports are that a group of parents have removed their children from this school to send then to such schools Conventional College and the Examination Excellence Academy. This encourages me to think that the HPSS is headed in a positive direction. When you see who is against them you have to want to support them!

But I believe that their desire to jettison NCEA Level 1 is based on some misunderstandings about NCEA and is to misjudge its usefulness in supporting the very things that HPSS wishes to emphasise.

For a start, NCEA is not about examinations. This could have been the journalist speaking but the article claimed in support of the move that this would free students from the pressure of examinations. The tragedy of NCEA is that schools have had great difficulty in understanding the freedom that NCEA offers, assessment by examination is not essential and a whole array of assessment techniques can be brought into play – especially at Level 1.

Secondly, NCEA is not in any shape or form related to either time served or age reached. There is no connection in regulation or law between Year 11 and NCEA Level 1, Year 12 and NCEA Level 2, or Year 13 and NCEA Level 3. Furthermore, there is no requirement that assessments be restricted to one level at a time. For a school aiming to liberate the curriculum I cannot think of a more ideal assessment framework. For a school aiming to devolve power to students I cannot see a more motivating assessment framework that allows for assessment at any time and at multiple levels.

 

Could the school not have chosen simply to free up the curriculum with NCEA being available for students to nominate the points and levels at which they wish their progress to be assessed? This could start in Year 8 with no problems.

Well, the argument might run, what would you do in the more senior years if the students have attained earlier than Year 13 their New Zealand “school qualification”? The answer to that is: do what a school qualification intends, use it as a staging post for getting on with non-school / postsecondary qualifications. This would allow students to lay a sound basis for future careers while they can still access education at no cost to the parents.

Each level of the education has a role to play – primary lays down the base of essential foundation skills, secondary hones those skills into sets of discipline related pathways into careers and employment while tertiary delivers the technical skills required to start and continue in those careers.

Nobody in education plays the role of being the be-all-and-end-all to a young person’s journey through the system – we all play only a part. Using the flexibility that NCEA was designed to bring into the system is a key.

One day NZQA will deliver (and it will!) on its promise (as outlined by CE Karen Poutasi in her SPANZ 2013 speech) to make available “assessment to anyone, anywhere, anytime, online and on demand.” We need schools such as Hobsonville Point Secondary School to start showing us the way forward towards this new world.

The long low croon of the steady Trade Winds blowing*

Stuart Middleton

EdTalkNZ

13 November 2015

I am sure that there is a discernible breeze getting up among the education trees.

I have recently spent time with Iwi groups who are looking at the value of such developments as the MIT Tertiary High School in jump-starting an improvement in Māori educational achievement. Demand for places in trades academies is increasing markedly and schools are asking for trades courses to be delivered within their programmes and on their premises.

In Alberta, Canada, I made a presentation (via video) about the MIT Tertiary High School to a major government education conference and there is ongoing work taking place to look at the value of such a development in Alberta, a province which probably has been more successful in adapting and changing than the more vaunted Ontario.

In the weekend papers a story is told of a set of early childhood education centres in the UK that is using experience with real trades tools and activities and a setting (workbenches, real materials and so on) to develop quality motor skills and social skills among the preschoolers.

At the other end of the age range, the University Technical Colleges developed under the leadership of Lord Baker of Dorking, are taking high performing 15 year old students into a STEM oriented programme and having them complete a first university degree by age 18 years. Why that age range? Lord Baker says simply: “14 years is too early to start specializing and 19 years is too late to get on with a career.”

As these English speaking systems get on with trying to address disengagement and failure (just as we are) some principles emerge which should be the foundation for future actions in response to the achievement issues.

Early access to applied learning will open up a pathway for students who are jettisoned by the university-bound track that constrains the senior secondary school programme. We hear so much chatter about different learning styles, about De Bono and and his jolly hats, about reflecting students aspirations and on and on and on but we see no action in response.

Early access to applied learning through the trades ticks all the boxes – a range of different learning styles can be catered for and the highly demanded skills of team work, planning and discipline are able to be integral parts of the programme. But most of all, when students reach the senior secondary school age they are wondering about their futures beyond school and trades programmes give a line of sight to employment and careers. Education become purposeful rather than for no obvious reason.

The age range 14-19 years is critical if we are to address disengagement and failure. It is where disengagement occurs, it is where the failure become manifest, it is where students become dispirited as they realize that they are ill-equipped for the world ahead. They are lured into a future as a NEET because it seems to be the only option. But what might once might have seemed to be the rosy glow of Shanghri-La quickly turns out to be neither rosy nor rewarding.

If we are to canny sailors we should be responding to the breeze before it develops into a storm that defies containment and might well be beyond our capability.

* Trade Winds John Masefield

A Pathways and Transitions Conference

Te Ara Whakamana 2015

 

For five years the MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways in partnership with Ako Aoteroa: National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence has held an international conference on pathways, transitions, bridging the gaps and seamless education. It started in a small way in 2011 and was predominantly focused on the new approach to “bridging the gap” between secondary and postsecondary education. The MIT Tertiary High School was a new development back then, the Youth guarantee policy was emerging and the questions were being raised as to how educational outcomes could be lifted by working differently. David Conley, from Oregon USA and the guru of career ready education, was the international speaker and over the years MIT and Ako Aotearoa have brought out to New Zealand such speakers as Gary Hoachlander from California and an expert in connected education, John Polesol, University of Melbourne, with his views on how social factors had shaped access to education and many others.

And this array of international speakers have been surrounded by the best practitioners from around New Zealand and as programmes addressing the issues of engagement, transitions and pathways spread, so too did the understanding of the importance of these new ways of working. Over the years a story has developed of increasing opportunity for New Zealand students in the senior years of schooling, of new ways and working and more importantly, of new pathways to success.

MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways and Ako Aotearoa: Centre of Excellence in Tertiary Teaching invite you to be a participant at the 2015 International Conference on Pathways, Transitions and Working Across Boundaries. Reflecting the growth of the programmes that increase positive outcomes for secondary and postsecondary students, this year’s programme stretches the band of interest to start the discussion of the role of employers in this new world.

The following brochure captures the themes and intentions of the conference. It will be held in the new state-of-the –art campus opened last year by MIT at Manukau – arrive by train right underneath the campus.

 

To register or for further information:  https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/tearawhakamana2015 

 Click on image to enlarge.

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A Broad View of ANZAC Day Abroad

 

I have spent ANZAC Day overseas on a few occasions. And there is a power in such experiences that seems to intensify because it is away from home.

Australia seems to declare party time once the solemnity of the morning services has past. I have seen this in Sydney and most notably in Melbourne. Again this year our own TV news showed a pretty boistrous and liquid game of Two-Up at which the atmosphere was captured by some young fellow who slurred and leered to the camera the sentiment that “they suffered for us so we are going to party for them.”

Perhaps one of the most moving was years ago in Singapore where as guest of the High Commission we were taken out to the ANZAC Memorial up on the hill looking over the straits of Jahore. There was still a military presence in Singapore then and so the ceremony had an appropriate degree of military ceremony and circumstance. As daylight seeped in the ceremony was moving in a way that brought a lot of things (including ourselves) home.

The last ANZAC Day I attended in Australia was on the outskirts of Brisbane at a splendid Dawn Service with a real suburban feel to it. The Guest Speaker that morning was Douglas Blackmur who many NZers will remember as once-upon-a-time CE of NZQA!

Solomon Islands – ANZAC but Australia really back in the 1980s – but this was full of meaning as stays were usually punctuated by snorkelling over the many WWII shipwrecks and coming across the metal detritus of a war.

This year has seen an unprecedented build-up given that it was the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. The energetic genealogical sleuthing of my brother has only in the past few months tracked down a missing Great-Uncle who we through was at ANZAC Cove that day in 1915 but this was a view sustained entirely without evidence. But the mystery has been solved.

The second son of our Great-Grandfather, William Ernest CAMERON was something of a character. He wandered around NZ (including mining activities in Waihi) and Australia settling in Tasmania. When war broke out he joined the queue and enlisted in the AIF 12th Battalion which shipped out to Egypt and Gallipoli. He died on 25 April 1915 as his company attacked up towards Walker’s Ridge. He was fighting for Australia and, because of that, for New Zealand. Both his life and his war were short.

This year I am in Samoa for ANZAC Day and the dawn service was a warm and appropriate gathering of local, expatriate and visiting folk who clustered around the clock tower in the centre of Apia. The always splendid Police Brass Band and a platoon of police dressed in ceremonial white gave the whole event a rather significant degree of the military origins of the day.

When I was at school, the School Cadet Unit from each school in Hamilton would march from the main street of Hamilton to the cenotaph on the eastern banks of the Waikato River. Hundreds of schoolboys in their military uniforms accompanied by staff dressed in the uniforms that had in many cases seen war service. As I got into the senior school I bacame a member of several brass bands and later, in Auckland, the Band of the 3 RNZIR Queen Alexander’s Own Regiment.

For me ANZAC Day was essentially a day of music and I think that element has diminished over the years. “Abide with me”, “Lead Kindly Light” and others were the staple diet of the day. No more it seems.

I think I despise quite a few things about nationalism, but 25/04 does have an unmistakeable feeling that home is home.

 

The Core Curriculum: What Happened to the Apples?

Well, the old food in school debate was about as long as a meal at MacDonalds and repeated itself about as much!

Having agreed with the Treasury that the evidence that saw an improvement in achievement result from food in schools efforts was about as robust as filo pastry, John Key left the kitchen while the “never mind the quality feel the warmth” brigade marched on.

But the interesting development was the emergence of support for Treasury / John Key from an interesting group – Principals of low decile schools in the North.  This was interesting – the meals in schools push was supported very much by Hone Harawera and it raised the issue of whether he had talked with the school leaders in the rohe.  Also because some of the Principals didn’t really have a track record of supporting strongly, perhaps even at all, the current Government.

Their argument was built around the fact that disadvantage can and does take many different forms in their schools. They did not want resources to be tied to one kind of support (food) but rather be available for supporting students in many different ways – a pair of shoes, a jersey, a raincoat – and so on. Their argument made good sense to those of us who are working or have worked at that end of the system.

Not only were the Principals of the North not prepared to make any connection between a meal and school achievement, they were also not prepared to turn the argument into a tirade against anyone. Their cool reflection and sound reasoning was impressive

But the Labour spokeperson on education, Chris Hipkins, was not going to miss this party and he waded in with strong support for food and meals in schools etc etc. Again he missed the point – the argument was not about the goodness of food or even the value of eating but about the lack of or any clear evidence that providing food in schools led to a raise in achievement.

What had been missed in the Treasury advice was a clear and reasoned statement that there was no measurable or causal link between the provision of school meals and that of improvement in school achievement. They were not writing a book on good dietary habits, or the value of eating, or the overall health of the child. It was a simple statement presented without distraction on student achievement, what helps and what appears to have little effect.

One of the I-know-food-improves learning group wished that “John Key would drop his ideological stance but failed to notice the quasi-ideological fervor with which she put forward her view.

An anecdote. 

I frequently exercise the limbs with a serious walk around the many walking tracks in the city area in which I live. One of these walks takes me through the grounds of a high-decile primary school that is very well regarded by the community, has something of a special interest in the environment and seems to take part in the apples-in-schools scheme. They have little gardens planted with a great variety of veges and a worm farm.

This vermicultural activity is of some interest to me as indeed I have a little worm farm at home. This team helps me to save the planet and keep the waste disposal unit idle. They don’t do it by themselves, a couple of compost bins are also part of the green army.

Well, one day, on one of my walks I thought I would take a peek into the school’s worm farm and what did I see? The bin was half full of beautiful apples. Now that is taking the core curriculum a bit far I thought! Well perhaps not if you were a worm.

At last, a food in schools effort which would lead to an improvement. What would Treasury say about that?