Competent Children at 12

Publication Details

This is the fifth report from the Competent Children longitudinal study, which is following a sample of Wellington region children as they grow from young children who attended an early childhood education centre, through their school attendance.

Author(s): Cathy Wylie, Jean Thompson, Edith Hodgen, Hilary Ferral, Cathy Lythe and Tineke Fijn, New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Date Published: 2004


Our look at the children at age 12 covers a wide range of the current activities, experiences and views of 12-year-olds in contemporary New Zealand. It also takes account of information from the study children's parents and teachers, whom we interviewed. At age 12, 53 percent of the study children were in Year 7 and 47 percent in Year 8.

As with the earlier stages of the study, we related the children's past and present experiences and perceptions to their competency levels. The 9 competencies we chose to focus on at age 12 were:

  • communication
  • perseverance
  • individual responsibility
  • curiosity
  • social skills with peers
  • social skills with adults
  • mathematics
  • literacy (reading comprehension, reading age, writing, vocabulary)
  • logical problem-solving.

The first six competencies were measured by teacher ratings, and the last three were measured by tests/tasks that the children did. However, we accompanied one of the teacher-assessed competencies-social skills with peers-with a task for the children. In addition to asking teachers to rate the children's competency in this area, we asked the children questions relating to bullying at school.

At the time we interviewed the teachers, they had been teaching the children in the study for an average of 7.3 months, with a range of 1 month to 4 years or more. The average age of the children at this time was 12 years, with a range of 11.10 years to 12.6 years.

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