New Zealand Schools: Ngā Kura o Aotearoa (2000)

Publication Details

The report of the Minister of Education on the compulsory schools sector in NZ pertaining to 2000 (also known as the Schools Sector Report).

Author(s): Data Management and Analysis Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: 2001

Key Findings

During 2000, the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy has developed assessment tools and exemplars of students' work that help clarify what is expected of students at each level. The Literacy Leadership programme assisted principals to develop a literacy vision for their school, evaluate current programmes and policies, and develop new programmes.

Responding to specific student needs

Individual differences matter. The Education Review Office (ERO) regards schools' responses to various groups of students, such as those for whom English is a second language, Māori, Pacific and special needs students, as areas of relative weakness in teaching and learning. ERO reports that schools that are responding best to ethnic diversity do so through acknowledgement and support of different cultures.

Most Māori are in mainstream education, and therefore mainstream schools remain a very important influence on educational achievement for the majority of Māori students. Demand for Māori language education exceeds supply. There are early signs of achievement success for schools with a whole-school approach to Māori language education. Māori language education has also strengthened social attitudes and values, bringing increased aroha (respect) and fewer stand downs and suspensions.

Initiatives for raising achievement amongst Pacific students include strengthening early English literacy and developing links between groups of schools and local communities. In December 2000, targets of the Pasifika Education Plan were released. The plan aims to raise achievement and participation across all sectors of education. Key themes include improving language proficiency and teacher quality, and strengthening community links.

ERO found that the standard of special education provision was satisfactory or good in 91 percent of schools. Its review of Special Education 2000 found schools were least satisfied with initiatives for students with high or very high needs, particularly the Severe Behaviour Initiative.

Forging links

Moving beyond the individual school as an isolated system has been an important aspect of many of
the initiatives implemented during 2000. Improving links between schools and both early childhood and tertiary education providers, developing links with other schools to support collective learning for school leadership, and strengthening links between schools and communities, have been key themes for the year. Early signs of positive change are emerging from partnerships between schools, iwi, and the Ministry of Education.

Parental satisfaction, particularly at primary school level, is reasonably high. Contacts between schools and parents diminish as children age, and there is less contact when students are not doing so well in school.

Information campaigns such as Whakaaro Mātauranga – Think Learning, and Feed the Mind, support parents in their teaching role by providing information about education and parents' roles in encouraging learning. Evaluation of Feed the Mind demonstrates how powerful these programmes can be in changing behaviour.


Achieving good quality education outcomes is the key goal of the schools sector. Schools can impact on how motivated students are and how well they achieve. To reach the goal, schools must ensure that all students achieve, regardless of the backgrounds from which students come.

During 2000 the first trend data from the National Education Monitoring Project of Year 4 and
Year 8 students was released. From 1995 to 1999 there was a significant improvement in students' performance in the material world strand of the science assessment, and little change in performance in art or graphs, tables and maps. Applying higher order thinking to solve complex problems remains a relative weakness.

During 2000 results from the repeat of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study were released. They showed that in international comparisons New Zealand students perform well in science and at about the international mean in mathematics.

Future educational and job prospects will be limited for those who leave school without Sixth Form Certificate or its equivalent on the National Qualifications Framework. Almost two-thirds of 2000 school leavers had reached this standard.

Since 1997 the percentage of school leavers with either a Scholarship or an A or B Bursary has been declining by around half a percent a year. Similarly, the percentage of students gaining an alternative seventh form qualification has declined from 22 percent in 1998 to 18 percent in 2000, whilst those leaving with Sixth Form Certificate has increased. The number of students choosing to leave school early and without any qualification has also increased slightly and an increased number of students have been granted exemptions to leave school at age 15. Many of these early school leavers went on to Youth Training courses or other courses offered by tertiary education providers.

Changes to the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) drove many of the themes for 2000 – a focus on achievement through self review, teacher professional development, and assessment and reporting on achievement, particularly for Māori students.

Strengthening Teaching

Recognising that quality teaching is a strong driver of student achievement, there has been considerable emphasis on professional development during 2000. The focus has been on assessment, literacy and numeracy, Māori education, and information and communications technology (ICT).

The Count Me in Too professional development programme helped teachers analyse the mental strategies students use to solve number problems, and provides them with activities that match the instructional needs of students. Teachers who implemented the programme achieved significant improvements in their students' numeracy.

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