Kiwi students on school system: 'No one cares enough'

by Eva Corlett / 14 March, 2018

What do kids want from their school system? Photo / Getty Images

A survey of school students turns up some concerning responses.

More school counsellors, compulsory Te Reo Māori classes and cleaner bathrooms are a few of many changes New Zealand school students want for the education system.

About 1500 primary and secondary school pupils nationally have been surveyed about their experiences in the system.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner and the School Trustees Association published the 'Education matters to me' report today.

The students from primary and secondary schools, including Kura Kaupapa Māori, alternative education groups and teen parent units relayed their stories to researchers.

The report included the experiences of Māori children, Pākehā, migrants, and their emotional well-being.

One Māori student described how he was called on to perform a haka to entertain visitors to the school, but that was the only time his principal paid attention to Māori culture.

Another said school was a "zoo" and he was "surrounded by snakes".

One secondary student described how she was targeted because of her ethnicity.

"At other schools we're judged like 'typical Māori girl'. We were labelled at other schools. They already decided who we were. Like 'oh there's a brown girl, she is going to beat us up. Stay away from them Māori'. Makes us mad and feel down."

A primary school student of Māori, Pākehā and Pacific descent said "the racist bastards that call us brown kids, pieces of poo and baa baa blacksheeps - schools need to get this stuff improved".

Another Māori secondary school student describes being ignored by her teacher.

"I am a library, quiet, but full of knowledge - it's dumb that I'm not asked."

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft said the government's plans for the education system - called the National Education Learning Priorities - were looming and young people's voices needed to be included.

"They are in a sense experts in their own experience, they're a rich resource, they always add quality to any decision-making," Mr Becroft said.

Bullying, mental health issues and too few counsellors on school grounds were another major cause for concern.

'No one cares enough'

In the report, a student describes his experience of trying to speak to a counsellor.

"Really, my biggest concern is that the counsellors are always booked up. I once put in a booking that said 'very urgent' and they only got to me a month and a half later.

"Imagine if I was bordering on suicide and they didn't get to me on time. That's what's wrong. No one cares enough."

Children wanted to be kept safe, Mr Becroft said.

Bullying would always occur among teenagers, he said, but adults needed to be "crystal clear" about how to be "prompt and decisive" in dealing with it.

Students were also asked what would help them achieve, and one student responded with this: "When teachers are cool and are good, when I can connect to them and I don't feel like they are just there to hassle me."

Many students said they wanted more supportive teachers, even if the pupils were troublemakers.

And they wanted rules on uniforms to lighten up, because sometimes they would get in trouble if they didn't own the right gear, despite a lack of money to buy new items.

Others wanted smaller classes and environments that adapt to the changing world: "Focussing more on the problems in the world and what we can do to help. I think it would be good if we learned to be more aware about equality and what's good for our planet."

Mr Becroft hoped the Ministry of Education would factor children's perspectives into its decision-making and that parents and whānau would also realise the importance of supporting children in school.

This article was originally published by RNZ.


Defence Minister Ron Mark defends his use of military aircraft
88389 2018-03-16 07:02:40Z Politics

Defence Minister Ron Mark defends his use of milit…

by Craig McCulloch

Defence Minister Ron Mark is denying any inappropriate use of military aircraft after revelations he has used them to fly to and from home.

Read more
Corrections moves sex offenders from lodge close to school
88387 2018-03-16 06:55:59Z Crime

Corrections moves sex offenders from lodge close t…

by Eva Corlett and Sally Murphy

Corrections says it will review its processes after it was discovered 11 sex offenders were living less than a kilometre away from an Auckland school.

Read more
Rodney Walshe: One of Ireland's best-known exports to New Zealand
88222 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z Profiles

Rodney Walshe: One of Ireland's best-known exports…

by Clare de Lore

When he arrived here from Ireland in 1960, Rodney Walshe had nothing but a suit and the gift of the gab. They took him a long way.

Read more
Derek Handley talks Trump, business and coming home
88378 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z Profiles

Derek Handley talks Trump, business and coming hom…

by Clare de Lore

The nomadic New Zealander who’s set his sights on space travel is no longer an alien.

Read more
How Lisa Walker went from teenage Wellington punk to celebrated jeweller
88263 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z What's on

How Lisa Walker went from teenage Wellington punk …

by Mike White

The Anarchist jeweller has a remarkable show at new Te Papa gallery, Toi Art.

Read more
A brief and brimming history of sh*t
87922 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z Books

A brief and brimming history of sh*t

by David Hill

Midas Dekkers' history of faeces favours sensible over sniggery.

Read more
Is the battery of the popular Nissan Leaf degrading too early?
88392 2018-03-16 00:00:00Z Technology

Is the battery of the popular Nissan Leaf degradin…

by Peter Griffin

A group of Kiwi citizen scientists claims to have discovered a problem with the battery in the world’s best selling electric car - the Nissan Leaf.

Read more
Goodbye Hamilton, hello Kirikiriroa: The growing push for Māori place names
88338 2018-03-15 09:05:34Z Social issues

Goodbye Hamilton, hello Kirikiriroa: The growing p…

by The Listener

The adoption of Māori place names may take some effort, but it's worth it.

Read more