He Whakaaro: The educational experiences of disabled learners

Publication Details

New Zealand is committed to providing an inclusive education system, ensuring that disabled students are supported to achieve their potential, and can participate fully in society. To what extent have we achieved this? This research uses Statistics NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) to combine the 2013 Disability Survey with data collected from early learning and schools. We use these data to provide one of the first systematic descriptions of the experiences and outcomes of disabled learners in the New Zealand education system.

Author(s): Mercy Mhuru, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: June 2020

Key Findings

  • Prevalence of disability increases with age, from 8% of students of primary school age in 2017 to 15% of intermediate or secondary school age.
  • Prior participation rates in early childhood education are identical between disabled and non-disabled students.
  • Disabled students are between 1.5 and 3 times more likely than their non-disabled peers to be stood-down, suspended and frequently move schools.
  • There are only minor differences in attendance rates between disabled and non-disabled students, and most differences are medical-related.
  • About a quarter of younger disabled students and 40% of older disabled students report that it is difficult for them to play or make friends.
  • Disabled students are substantially more likely to receive Ministry-funded learning support than non-disabled students, but there are indications (from Ministry data and from parent reports) that many disabled students continue to have unmet needs.
  • Some groups of disabled students (such as those with non-cognitive mobility impairments) attain NCEA at rates on par with non-disabled students.
  • But as a group, disabled students are half as likely to attain NCEA Level 3 as non-disabled students, and more than twice as likely to attain no qualification at school.

Contact Us

Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email:      Requests EDK
Phone:    +64 4 463 8065