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February 21, 2011 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Student Share School Views

A “ground-breaking” report released by the Green Party reveals what pupils think of the New Zealand education system.

“As kids head back to school, adults are preoccupied with debates about assessment. I asked young people directly what they need from the education system, and their concerns are quite different,” Green Party Education Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

The report seeks views from all over New Zealand and asks four questions about education:

  1. What did/do you love about school?
  2. What did/do you hate about school?
  3. What do you need to know?
  4. a. What would a real education look like? b. What would a real education feel like? c. What would a real education do?

It’s not often pupils have a say on how they are educated and how their schools are to be operated, and they had wide-ranging views on how schools are currently run.

Pupils enjoy learning when it is relevant to their interests and when they are afforded greater involvement. Many expressed a desire to share their opinions and challenge what teachers are saying instead of being forced to quietly learn from a book.

They also wanted to be taught for learning’s sake instead of learning to meet achievement standards. Many wanted more subject choices and more depth within each subject. Some pupils enjoy the NCEA system for its clear NAME system. Others think this can undermine a pupil’s strength with one bad mark.

The report also revealed that pupils are disenchanted with the environment of their schools. They want colourful, vibrant spaces with furniture and classrooms that promote interaction and discussion and are equipped with all necessary resources. They also want to be taught how to care for their school environment and to have interesting outdoor spaces.

Pupils also commented on cases of homophobia, racism and discrimination from pupils and teachers. Many said teachers demand respect towards them but refuse to give any back and will often only teach to the ‘scholarship front row’.

Delahunty concluded: “We may not agree with some of the views of some young people but neither do we agree with each other. Education is a contested political space where the least we can do is listen to the voices of students.”

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