As NCEA pass rates fall the ethnicity gaps widen

The Labour-led government that closed all the Charter schools which were wildly successful at closing the educational ethnicity gaps, is failing New Zealand’s young people.

The signs are very bad 18 months into their government.

Alwyn Poole has said that the tragedy of the 2018 results is that it is making a bad situation for groups already struggling, much worse. The Ministry is yet to publish the University Entrance statistics for schools leavers for 2018 but in 2017 it was:

  • Asian students 67%
  • European students 44%
  • Maori students 20%
  • Pasifika students 19%

If those stats follow trends, Poole says we “could be at 85% of Maori and Pasifika school leavers without a Tertiary study ticket to ride.”

Labour have always claimed to be a party focused on Education and poor. So far (18 months in) for the young and vulnerable their main changes have been to:

  • Remove National Standards (which I agree with because the model was poor – but they have replaced it with no indicators at all).
  • Remove the Charter School Model (while saying they will encourage new “Character Schools” … which is yet to happen.
  • Remove Aspire Scholarships that gave low decile families opportunities in Private Schools.
  • Make the first year of Tertiary Study free – a boost for those actually able to go (i.e. largely not Maori and Pasifika), which has not boosted student numbers.
  • Produce a Tomorrow’s Schools review that has 8 unworkable and unaffordable recommendations that would change nothing at the classroom/outcome level.
  • Fail to agree to new contracts with the NZEI.
  • Fail to agree to new contracts with the PPTA.
  • Continue a “Communities of Learning” policy that spends millions and is clearly bringing very little progress.
  • Fail to implement a promise to remove school donations for schools that want to, and pay them an extra $150 per child.

What would actually change the above? What are the positive, workable, urgent and far more cost effective solutions … for the actual problems?

  • Super-fund the decile 1-3 schools.
  • Provide principals in those schools with a business manager to take care of resourcing, contracts, etc — allowing them to fully focus on academics.
  • Trust these principals with significant incentive payments to attract and keep great teachers.
  • Limit class size to 15 in decile 1 – 3 schools.
  • Help the families — provide uniform, stationery and IT, and don’t ask for donations.
  • Make every year urgent in these schools but also have a 13-year plan so that by the end of that, these young people who will go on to parent the next generation, have education levels that don’t offer up an excuse for our school system.
  • The secondary teacher shortage is qualitative as well as quantitative. To attract great degree graduates and second-career people they must be paid to train, as it is no longer tenable to have them go without a year of income in a high-employment economy and with so many international opportunities.

And in terms of the Haque report … leave the schools and aspects that are working alone and put the document in the bin.

Alwyn Poole