Schools steering Maori and Pasifika away from uni, says ERO

by Catherine Woulfe / 03 July, 2013
The Education Review Office confirms some schools are using the pass-boosting tactic that Parata earlier dismissed as "rubbish".
This story was originally published on July 3rd, 2013.

Some schools are selling Maori and Pasifika short by channeling them into “vocational” courses such as agriculture, tourism or hospitality, a national report by the Education Review Office has found.

These courses let students pick up NCEA credits for tasks such as making coffee or riding a motorbike on flat terrain. They are widely considered easier to pass than “academic” alternatives such as science or history – so they can make school pass rates look good. But doing these courses rather than the academic ones will generally rule a student out of going on to university.

NZ education - Hekia Parata
Hekia Parata, photo/Ben Fraser

Allegations that schools are putting more students through these courses as a tactic to keep NCEA pass rates high were outlined in the May 11 Listener story All Shall Pass.

At the time, those allegations were dismissed as “rubbish” by Education Minister Hekia Parata. But the ERO report, released today, flags the issue as one of four “challenges facing all secondary schools”.

ERO recommends that schools prioritise the development of more academic courses for Maori and Pasifika.

Last year the Government set an explicit target that by 2017 at least 85% of 18 year-olds would have Level 2 NCEA or its equivalent. In our earlier story, many in the sector linked the vocational courses tactic to that increased pressure.

Parata’s response at the time was: “Okay, so I’d say that’s rubbish. If a kid wants to pursue a pathway to university, then they have the choice of units or credits that will get them there. No teacher or school forces kids or parents to take a pathway that’s something less than what they aspire to. I have seen absolutely no evidence of that.”

ERO investigated 74 schools for the report, which focuses on how well secondary schools prepare students for future education, employment or training. Responding to individual students’ needs was seen as key.

The report found that 10 schools were effective, 38 were “partially responsive” and 23 had “limited responsiveness”. Three schools were deemed to be responding poorly to students’ needs. The report says the increase in vocational pathways enables more students to succeed.

“However, it is also clear that some schools are seeing vocational programmes mainly as a way to increase qualifications for Māori and Pacific students, particularly for the boys. While many students experience the benefits of these vocational courses, very few schools were developing academic courses specifically to increase the numbers of Māori and Pacific students who are able to enter university. While many Māori and Pacific students may succeed in vocational contexts, and thereby achieve NCEA Level 2, the question remains – how many Māori and Pacific students may also have thrived in more academic programmes that responded to their interests, strengths and aspirations? Schools need to raise the expectations for some of these students by ensuring that their curriculum and systems are enabling Māori and Pacific students to achieve to their potential.”

Read the full ERO report here.

Read the May 11 Listener story here.

Follow the Listener on Twitter or Facebook.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Work visas for New Zealand hit an all-time high
76950 2017-07-26 07:41:55Z Economy

Work visas for New Zealand hit an all-time high

by Mei Heron

The number of work visas issued in New Zealand has hit an all-time high and the number will keep rising, according to the government.

Read more
Why Paula Bennett is trouble for the National Party
76812 2017-07-26 00:00:00Z Politics

Why Paula Bennett is trouble for the National Part…

by Graham Adams

With the solo-mum-to-Cabinet humblebrag getting old, and not enough attention paid to her portfolios, the Deputy PM is now a liability for National.

Read more
Smuggled stories of totalitarianism from North Korea
76852 2017-07-26 00:00:00Z Books

Smuggled stories of totalitarianism from North Kor…

by James Robins

The Accusation has sparse and simple stories of ordinary people caught up in North Korea’s regime.

Read more
A ride-on mower made me the man I've always wanted to be
76810 2017-07-26 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

A ride-on mower made me the man I've always wanted…

by Greg Dixon

Aucklander-gone-countryman Greg Dixon fulfills his lifelong obsession: owning a ride-on mower.

Read more
Media warned over 'carte blanche' use of social media posts
76909 2017-07-25 13:31:44Z Social issues

Media warned over 'carte blanche' use of social me…

by Max Towle

“Just because it’s viral, doesn’t mean it should be broadcast as news.”

Read more
Win a double pass to The Dinner
76907 2017-07-25 12:21:03Z Win

Win a double pass to The Dinner

by The Listener

The Dinner is based on the international best-seller by Herman Koch, which follows two successful couples over one evening.

Read more
Boris Johnson: NZ 'great exporter of human capital'
76870 2017-07-25 09:47:44Z Politics

Boris Johnson: NZ 'great exporter of human capital…

by RNZ

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says NZ is a great exporter of human capital to the UK and he wants to ensure Kiwis can "come and go" freely.

Read more
Council snoops are cracking down on wood fires – that's bonkers
76790 2017-07-25 00:00:00Z Social issues

Council snoops are cracking down on wood fires – t…

by Bill Ralston

Anything that deters people from keeping their homes warm over winter is dumb.

Read more