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Teachers Propping Up the NZ School System With Their Own Money

SOSNZ surveyed New Zealand teachers about the amount of their own money they spend on school supplies, and the results are astonishing.

In reply to the question “Have you ever spent your own money buying supplies for your own class?”, 100% of respondents said yes.

A huge 86% of teachers said they have spent their own money on supplies every year they have worked, an additional 12% said they have spent their own money most years, and 2% said they had done it a few years. Nobody said they had never done so.

In short, NZ teachers are propping up the school system with their own money.

How much are teachers spending?

The survey asked “How much do you estimate you have spent on essential work supplies over your entire teaching career?”, and a stunning 32% of teachers responded that they SOSNZ Teacher Spend Survey, May 2018have spent over five thousand dollars of their own money so far. $5000! That’s a significant sum, especially when we consider the large proportion of teachers that don’t stay in the job for more than 5 years.

A total of 69% said in their teaching careers they have so far spent over $1000, 19% said it was $501-$1000, 10% said $101-$500, and one lucky respondent said they had spent ‘only’ $1-$100. All respondents had spent something.

When asked what they had spent on supplies this year alone (bearing in mind we have only had around 14 school weeks so far), 65% of teachers have spent between $100 and $500. A lucky 4% had spent nothing, and 24% up to $100. But a worrying 4% have spent $501-$1000 and an alarming 2% have spent over a thousand dollars.

What are teachers buying?

Respondents were asked to “Tick all of the things you have spent your own money purchasing for any school while you were employed there”. According to their responses:

93% bought small in-class storage (e.g. tubs, buckets, containers)

91% bought display materials (e.g. borders, background materials, pegs, clips, etc)

88% bought baking and cooking supplies for student use

87% bought pens and pencils for students, and 85% bought them for their own use

Over 80% bought highlighters/vivids/board pens for their own use, posters for display, and maths supplies such as games, dice, cubes, flashcards, clocks, measuring jugs etc.

74% had bought reading books for their classroom, and 74% had bought art supplies. Purchases for topic studies also came in at 74%.

Almost three quarters of teachers are buying modelling books for group and whole-class activities, and over half of teachers have bought students workbooks.

In addition to own-class supplies, 45% of teachers responded that they had spent their own money on supplies for the wider school – e.g. for the library, office, copier room or resource room.

This is a breakdown of all responses:

Pens/pencils for students’ use

85%

Pens/pencils for your own use

87%

Rulers/glue sticks for students’ use

64%

Rulers/glue sticks for your own use

68%

Highlighters/vivids for students’ use

65%

Highlighters/vivids/board pens for own use

84%

Work books for students’ use

56%

Teacher modelling books

72%

Display materials (e.g. borders, background materials, pegs, clips, etc)

91%

Posters for display

84%

Art supplies (e.g. felt tips, crayons, jovis, pastels, paints, paint pots, brushes, glue, craft materials etc )

74%

Small in-class storage (e.g. tubs, buckets, containers)

93%

Large in-class or office storage (e.g. filing systems, cupboards, shelves, drawers)

53%

Soft furnishings (e.g. cushions, rugs, curtains etc)

66%

Seating  (e.g. seating pads, chairs, sofas, beanbags etc)

46%

Maths supplies (e.g. games, dice, cubes, flashcards, clocks, measuring jugs etc)

81%

Topic-specific supplies 

74%

Cookery/Baking supplies 

88%

Te Reo supplies

54%

Reading books (fiction, non-fiction, reference)

 72%

Furniture & Furnishings

The above figures show that teachers are even buying furniture for their classrooms.

Just over 50% said they had bought large in-class or work office storage such as filing systems, cupboards, shelves, and drawers. 66% had also bought soft furnishings such as cushions, rugs and curtains, and almost 50% said they had bought seating such as seating pads, chairs, sofas, beanbags for their classrooms.

It’s alarming that so many teachers are having to buy their own essential work-space furniture. Does Ministry account for teachers’ administrative needs when new classrooms are designed? Are insufficient operational budgets being propped up by teachers’ own funds? What’s going on?

Do Teachers Mind?

The final question in this short survey asked teachers to rate on a sliding scale how they felt about paying for these supplies. The scale was:

(0) Don’t mind at all  ——————————————————— It infuriates me (100)

The mean average response was 61 points showing a large level of dissatisfaction with this situation overall, but there was quite a range in the responses: Ten percent said they don’t mind at all (responding 0 or 1), whilst 18% were infuriated (responding 90-100). Of the 18% that were most infuriated, 8% responded 100, the maximum option.

Impact on New Teachers

The SOSNZ survey didn’t ask how long the respondents had been in the profession, but it would be interesting to look into whether there is a link between yearly spend and length of service. My suspicion is that new teachers (that are paid the least) are spending most. If that’s the case, it could be a contributing factor in overall job dissatisfaction. This is an important consideration given most teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and may be worth further and deeper investigation.

Imagine…

Teachers are clearly spending significant amounts of money propping up our education system in order to give students what they need in class and to have adequate supplies for themselves, and have been doing so for quite some time.  Some overseas teachers responded to this phenomena by removing from their classrooms everything they had paid for, with startling results. I wonder, New Zealand, what would our classrooms look like if we did the same?

Drop National Standards following damning survey – NZEI

Research showing less than 16 percent of teachers think National Standards have had a positive impact on student achievement is the latest evidence that the standards are not working and should be dropped, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

A New Zealand Council for Educational Research survey of principals and teachers showed their opinions of National Standards had dropped further over the past three years. Less than a quarter said the standards provided a good picture of studenational standardsnt learning – down from 37% in 2013 – and only 20% said the standards helped motivate students to take on new challenges.

“This survey deals a huge blow to the credibility of National Standards and shows how dangerous it would be to use them as the basis of any future school funding system,” NZEI president Louise Green said.

“National Standards have failed to achieve the two purposes they were set up for –  lifting achievement, and giving parents better information about the progress of their children.

“Its bad enough that the standards are not useful for lifting achievement, or measuring progress, they also offer little to students with additional learning needs – the very group we were told they were supposed to help.

“Teachers have tried hard to make the standards work since they were introduced seven years ago and if they were helping children learn better we’d embrace them, but they’re not.

The survey follows recent international assessment findings that New Zealand children’s scores in maths and reading had dropped since the standards had been introduced.

“If National Standards have failed to lift achievement, don’t provide good information for teachers or parents, and are demotivating for students, the obvious solution is to drop them.

“Parents deserve good quality information about their children’s progress, children deserve a modern, broad curriculum that motivates them to learn, and teachers deserve the best teaching tools. National Standards fails on all fronts,” Ms Green said.

Bullying and Harassment of Teachers in NZ Schools

In this third and final invited blog post about the outcomes from the SOSNZ survey on NZ teachers’ experiences of stress, anxiety and depression, I comment on another of the common themes from the results: bullying.

Teachers spend significant energy on preparing and delivering lessons, managing their classrooms and helping students who, for complex reasons, may have difficulties with learning activities, concentrating or getting along with others. For every teacher, continuous pressure from these situations increases risks of suffering from anxiety, emotional exhaustion, stress and depression. And each teacher and teaching context is different.

no to bullyingBut what happens when the main cause of stress and anxiety isn’t within the classroom, but outside it? This may be more difficult to overcome because by definition stressful situations like being the victim of bullying are unpredictable and concealed from others.

Often research and policies surrounding bullying prevention in schools are focused on the students rather than the staff and management. But the culture of bullying in the workplace is known to be a significant problem in New Zealand and this is increasingly evidenced in media and employment law.

Allan Halse, Director of Culturesafe NZ – an organisation set-up to raise awareness of legislation and support victims of bullying – believes

“…this problem will increase until there is more accountability. For instance, there should be consequences for all employers who choose to ignore or maintain the behaviours of workplace bullies.”

A large proportion of CulturesafeNZ’s clients are employees within the education sector.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, 10% of the initial 100 participants from our teacher survey commented that bullying – either from management or parents or both – was a major cause of their stress and anxiety.

In the initial 100 responses, additional anonymous comments highlighted teachers’ experiences of stress as a result of being bullied:  “The pressure placed on teachers by management in planning and assessment and time management for teachers” or more specifically “A principal can make or break staff” and similarly: “The pressure from management and their unrealistic expectations of their staff”.  I predict that when analysis is complete for all 700+ participants, the extent of the bullying problem in New Zealand schools will become more apparent.

Generally, the prevalence of workplace bullying links to commonly debated cultural issues of the New Zealand workplace, for instance the phenomenon of Tall Poppy Syndrome (something I’ve written briefly about elsewhere). What is worrying (as highlighted in my previous post) is that teachers in this survey commented how they did not draw upon (or even know about) coping strategies or helpful free resources like the EAP. In view of the gap in academic literature on this subject, it appears the Ministry are sweeping this problem under the carpet. The NZCER run a survey which includes aspects of bullying, but there is a cost of subscribing. This skews the outcomes because understandably only those principals who see a value to publishing their own school’s results are likely to engage with it.  Costs of participating in the NZCER survey are based on numbers of students in the school – which is unhelpful because an analysis of workplace culture would not necessarily be connected to its size – for students or staff.

demoralise the people - ravitchIn light of the new Health and Safety Act in New Zealand (which brings NZ more closely in line with other developed countries) some believe workplace bullies will be exposed and subsequently prosecuted. But WorksafeNZ  do not (yet) seem to have fully grasped the well-established links between bullying and the emotional harm it causes; concentrating instead to focus their attention on the more obvious bodily harm, caused by physical workplace hazards.

However, teachers need help, support and protection from all sources of stress, anxiety and depression, and this includes bullying and harassment in the workplace. This is important, not only for the well-being of the staff themselves, but also for students because, let’s be clear, students learn best in a safe, caring and professional environment.

~ Dr Ursula Edgington

You can read the full article detailing the initial analysis of the survey results here. (We hope to bring you the full analysis in due course, with the results of over 700 participants.)

SOSNZ Teacher Stress Survey – Part 2

In this invited post – part two of a series of three – I summarise the global issues related to teachers’ well-being and present an analysis of the preliminary findings from a short, informal exploratory questionnaire from Save our Schools NZ about levels of stress, anxiety and depression reported by New Zealand teachers.

Coping With Stress

In my previous post, I highlighted the issues of stress and anxiety and some concern about the well-being of the New Zealand teachers. One of the most important support mechanisms provided by many schools is the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

EAP is a service supported by the New Zealand government to provide confidential counselling services and sources of information for staff from subscribing organisations. However, it is interesting to note that 77% of participants from this short exploratory survey did not know about the EAP, and some noted how even when present and known about, it was not effective as a source of support.

Steps Taken to Reduce Stress

Most of us are aware how a certain level of ‘good’ stress is argued to be beneficial. But only when it is short-term and can be kept under control. The survey asked teachers what steps they usually took to reduce their levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Potential options included all the usual coping strategies promoted in popular self-help books, Apps, media and research.

87% of respondents said they “Try to carry on regardless”

Despite the high levels of stress and anxiety reported in these participants’ answers, the most common response (87%) was ‘Try to carry on regardless’. Other popular strategies were reported as ‘eating’, ‘exercising’ and ‘sleeping’ (42%, 40% & 44% respectively).

The responses from this short preliminary survey then are cause for concern: not only because so many teaching staff do not appear to have developed adequate coping strategies to deal with levels of stress and anxiety, but also because so many reported how they coped through ways that are likely to have an additional negative impact upon their health.

For instance, 23 of the 100 participants turned to alcohol for relief and 9 admitted to either smoking, self-medication or using drugs.

stress survey pic 3

These preliminary results mirror not only the high rates of stress and anxiety evident in UK teachers, but also the coping strategies used in the UK, such as an over-reliance on alcohol.

Sick Days Taken

When reporting how many days off taken as a result of stress, anxiety or depression over the past 12 months, the most common answer from participants was 0-3 days (81%). This may indicate the hidden nature of this problem in that staff are perhaps trying to ‘carry on regardless’ by coming into work when they could instead be focusing on their own health and well-being.

Asked how much time they had taken off work over the past 12 months as a direct result of the symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression:

  • 11% reported taking 4-7 days off 
  • 2% reported taking 8-12 days off
  • 6%reported taking 13 days or more off work

Support From Your School

When respondents were asked to rate their current school in terms of helpfulness towards supporting staff with stress, anxiety and depression, schools did not score highly, with only 14%described as ‘Very helpful’ and 5% described as ‘Very unhelpful’. This is of concern.

stress survey pic 2

Finding Help and Support

Is the long-term health of teachers in New Zealand is at risk? Perhaps it is when nearly half (47%) of these respondents reportedly had been medically diagnosed with stress, anxiety or depression and 55% had taken time off work as a result of these symptoms.

I would like to emphasise here again, the importance of just talking through our problems to a trained listener.

The questionnaire deliberately included appropriate links to helplines for those suffering from depression and needed support. A comprehensive list of information and helplines available can be found here.

Read the full article about the preliminary outcomes from the initial 100 participants to the exploratory survey here.

~ Dr Ursula Edgington

Stress, anxiety and depression in the teaching profession – part 1

In this invited Blog post – one of a series of three – I explore some of the global issues related to teachers’ well-being and present an analysis of the preliminary findings from a short, informal exploratory questionnaire from Save our Schools NZ about levels of stress, anxiety and depression reported by New Zealand teachers.  

 

ID-100389931

Image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A recent report from a major UK teachers’ Union (NASUWT) illustrated the high levels of stress, anxiety and depression among the teaching profession.  

 

  • 22% of respondents to that UK survey reported increased use of alcohol
  • 21% increased use of caffeine and 5% increased use of tobacco to help them manage work-related stress
  • 7% of the teachers reported how their use or reliance upon prescription drugs has increased to help them cope
  • Almost half (47%) of these teachers had seen a doctor in the last 12 months as a result of work-related physical or mental health problems.

Perhaps understandably, staff turnover is high, with many UK teachers leaving after the first year.

But what of the New Zealand context?

History shows the inevitability of audit cultures so prevalent in the UK and US influencing policy and practice in New Zealand, as indeed some already have in the form of National Standards and other initiatives . It’s the introduction of previously alien business models, including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within state provision services that creates challenges. So, do New Zealand teachers also suffer high levels of stress, anxiety and depression?  And if their emotional  health is being negatively impacted by their work, are the causes similar to those highlighted in the UK and elsewhere? To what extent does stress impact upon the individuals and the institution concerned and what could be learnt from the international research in this area?

How often are teachers feeling stressed or anxious?

In a very short survey, Save Our Schools NZ asked teachers: ‘In a typical week, how often do you feel stressed or anxious at work?’  

  • 72% responded either that ‘most of the time’ or ‘about half the time’ they felt stressed or anxious (about 35% for each category). 
  • 20% commented that ‘once in a while’ they felt these symptoms.
  • Perhaps most worryingly, 7% commented that they ‘always’ felt stressed and anxious at work.

stress survey pic 1

Causes

Another question focused on some of the possible causes of this stress and anxiety. It presented a number of options based on the outcomes from other research data in this area and asked which of the terms best defined the main causes of the stress, anxiety and depression.

  • The most prevalent choice of the participants was ‘own workload’ with a result of 73%.
  • The next closest answers were three equally-ranked responses with approximately 50% of participants choosing these:
    • Pressures from management’
    • ‘Students’ needs’ and
    • ‘Students’ behaviour’  

(The latter two causes were highlighted in the comments section as being as a result of teachers not feeling they had adequate support from their school for students with complex needs.)

  • The next two closely-ranked (and interconnected) answers were ‘Changes in educational policy’ and ‘Lack of support in school’, which each scored approximately 30%.

Interestingly for me personally – because of my research interests – the lowest-ranking answer of all the choices provided was ‘Audit and inspection’ which often ranks very highly for teachers in the UK under pressure from accountability measures. In line with research by Prof Martin Thrupp, this potentially indicates a stark contrast between the negative impact of Ofsted on UK teachers’ lives and the more sensitive (if somewhat ambiguous) approach from New Zealand’s Education Review Office (ERO).

This question also had an ‘other’ comments box which revealed a series of other relevant issues: 10% commented that bullying – either from management or parents or both – was a major cause of their stress and anxiety. This links to commonly debated cultural issues of the New Zealand workplace, for instance the phenomenon of Tall Poppy Syndrome (something I’ve written briefly about elsewhere and will return to later.)

In conclusion, the outcomes from this initial survey indicates that stress is clearly having a significant, negative impact on New Zealand teachers, and perhaps warrants a closer and more in-depth investigation. For instance, how widespread is this problem and what are the lived experiences of New Zealand teachers?

You can read the full article about the preliminary outcomes from the initial 100 participants to the exploratory survey here.

– Dr Ursula Edgington

 

Otago Uni Survey – Financial costs associated with compulsory education in New Zealand

take the surveyResearchers at Otago University are conducting an online survey to find out about the costs associated with compulsory schooling in New Zealand, and what effect families think costs have on students’ participation in school-based activities.

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child in a state or state-integrated school in New Zealand, they would very much like you to take part.

To read more about the survey and, if you choose, to take part, CLICK HERE.  This does not commit you to taking part.

If you do fill in the survey, your information will not be kept unless you click the button at the end of the survey that asks you to agree to your survey being kept. 

The survey itself will take around 15 minutes to complete.

To read more and maybe take part, CLICK HERE.

 

Here is more information:

What is the Aim of the Project?

This research is designed to explore:

  • the kinds of school-related activities and experiences that incur a financial cost to parents and caregivers of students in state and state-integrated schools
  • the costs that parents and caregivers feel obliged to pay, and those that they believe they need to pay in order for their child to receive normal school experiences
  • whether parents and caregivers believe financial cost influences their child’s ability to take part in curricular and extra-curricular activities offered by their school.

What Types of Participants are being sought?

We are seeking participation from parents and caregivers of students in state and state-integrated schools throughout New Zealand.

What Data or Information will be collected and what use will be made of it?

The questionnaire asks what school your children attend, how many children attend this school, what school-related costs you have paid, what payments you felt obliged to make, and other related questions. If you wish to receive a copy of the results of the research, you will be asked to provide your e-mail address, but this will not be stored with the questionnaire. The data will be hosted on a University web server, and protected by passwords held only by the researchers. Data obtained as a result of the research will be retained for at least 5 years, and possibly indefinitely. In the final research, schools will be identified by decile (no school names will be included, but school regions might be, where the researchers believe this will not compromise school anonymity).

The results of the project may be published and will be available in the University of Otago Library (Dunedin, New Zealand).

Participants who provide their e-mail addresses and indicate they would like a copy of the results will be e-mailed one at the conclusion of the research.

Can Participants change their mind and withdraw from the project?

On the last page of the questionnaire, there is a tick box to indicate you agree to your answers being kept. If you decide not to tick this, we will delete your answers from the database. If you do tick this box, you won’t be able to remove your answers from the database, because we won’t keep any identifying information, such as your name, that would allow us to distinguish your questionnaire from others.

What if Participants have any Questions?

If you have any questions about the project, either now or in the future, please feel free to contact:
Dr. Ruth Gasson
University of Otago College of Education
University Telephone Number 0-3-4794940
e-Mail: <ruth.gasson@otago.ac.nz>

This study has been approved by the University of Otago College of Education. However, if you have any concerns about the ethical conduct of the research you may contact the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee through the Human Ethics Committee Administrator (ph 0-3-4798256). Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated and you will be informed of the outcome.

Survey Of Political Parties On Child Well-Being Issues

Bryan Bruce - Inside child povertyby Bryan Bruce, Knowledge is Power

Last week I surveyed all the political parties on where they stood on 10 issues  directly or indirectly  related to child well-being in New Zealand.

They were asked which of them they would or would not support  in principle  should it come to a vote in the upcoming parliament.

Bill English on behalf of National refused to take part in the survey saying the questions were ‘hypothethical”.

National are also now the only party not to commit to cross-party talks after the election to see if some long term solutions to issues surrounding child poverty can be found.

Some parties chose to give ‘No Answer’ to some of the questions because their party had not yet formed a view. National’s refusal to respond has also been listed as ‘No Answer’ …..

1. Warrant of fitness to be compulsory for all rental properties within three years.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Conservative Party

NO ANSWER

National

2. Progressively extend the paid parental leave period to 12 months within the next six years.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Maori Party

3. Free healthy lunches to be made available to all school children within the next 6 years. The scheme to be introduced first to decile 1, 2 and 3 schools and then rolled out progressively up to decile 10 schools.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party

United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

Labour

ACT

Conservative Party

NO ANSWER

National

4. Free 24 hour medical care be made available to all children and young people up to, and including, the age of 18 within the next three years.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Maori Party

Mana

NZ First

United Future

Alliance

Conservative Party

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

NO ANSWER

National

Labour

5. One health nurse for every 300 school children and a free doctor visit to schools once a week

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party Mana

Maori Party United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

NO ANSWER

Conservative Party

Labour

National

NZ First

6. Create low interest initiatives to allow families to build or buy affordable healthy housing.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

NO ANSWER

National

7. The introduction of a “living wage” rather than a “minimum” wage?

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party Labour

Mana

Maori Party

Alliance

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Conservative Party

Democrats For Social Credit

United Future

NO ANSWER

NZ First

National

8. Remove GST from food.

WOULD SUPPORT

Mana

Maori Party

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Green Party

Labour

United Future

NO ANSWER

Internet Party

NZ First

National

9. Repurchase the electricity system to be run as a public utility and not for profit?

WOULD SUPPORT

Mana

NZ First

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Green Party

Labour

Maori Party

United Future

NO ANSWER

Conservative Party

Internet Party

National

 

10. Does your Party undertake to take part in cross party talks after the election to reach long term solutions to child poverty related issues?

YES

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party United Future

ACT

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

Internet Party

NO ANSWER

National

 

Source: Knowledge is Power

See also: www.facebook.com/InsideChildPoverty

Actually, Our Kiwi Education System is Bloody Good

The latest published statistics from a worldwide survey of education in 15 year olds shows that we are doing really, really well.  Excellently, in fact.

Reviewers of the data noted that “New Zealand’s education system has won major praise with it nearing the top in literacy, mathematics and science according to a highly recognised international assessment system. But the data points to some alarming gaps in New Zealand – especially socio-economic.” [1]  So we are doing well despite the shocking gaps between those with much and those with little.  Go figure.

So just how well did we do?

Overall,  in 2009 New Zealand was ranked 5th out of 34 OECD countries for mean PISA scores across reading, mathematics and science.

Fifth.  Fifth out of thirty four.  FIFTH!

Where was the USA?  The UK?  Aus?  Below NZ, not above.   So next time a politician stands up and talks about education here in the God Zone, just remember – 5th in the world.

Are the 2012 statistics a fluke?

No, they’re not. NZ consistently performs well, as shown in the 2000, 2002 and 2003 information below: [2]

Educational attainment

Over three-quarters (76 percent) of New Zealanders aged 25–64 years have achieved secondary or tertiary educational qualifications.

This is at the upper end of the OECD scale, placing New Zealand twelfth among 30 nations, slightly behind Austria and ahead of Finland, and well above the OECD average of 65 percent.

There is considerable variation in the proportion of people holding qualifications, from 13 percent in Mexico to 88 percent in the Czech Republic.

Educational Attainment(percentage of 25–64 year olds attaining at least upper secondary education), 2002

Percent
 New Zealand  76
 OECD  65

High rates of early childhood education

New Zealand also has higher rates of participation in early childhood education than most other OECD countries.

Ninety-three percent of New Zealand four year olds were involved in early childhood education in 2000, compared with an OECD average of just 73 percent. New Zealand ranked ninth in the proportion of four year olds in education.

Education(proportion of 4 year olds in primary or pre-primary education), 2000

 Percent
 New Zealand  93
 OECD  73

Literacy

New Zealand children rank relatively highly on international literacy scales.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment measures performance levels of students near the end of compulsory education in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

The data shows that New Zealand children rank seventh among OECD countries, with comparable data in terms of the average score across the three scales, behind Finland, Korea, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia. New Zealand rates above the OECD average on each of the scales – fifth in reading, ninth in mathematics and seventh in science.

 Student Literacy(student performance on the combined reading, scientific and mathematical literacy scales), 2003

Performance
 New Zealand  522
 OECD average  498

So just how well did we do in the latest statistics?

The science results for 15 year olds were topped by Shanghai (575), Finland (554), Singapore (542) and New Zealand (532).  That means we are the 4th best in science out of 65 countries. The OECD average was 501.

The top reading literacy scores for 15-year-olds showed Korea (with a score of 539), Finland (536),  Hong Kong-China (533), Singapore (526), Canada (524) and then New Zealand (521). New Zealand was well above the OECD average of 493.  It’s worth noting that all but one of the countries out-performing NZ there have education systems based on equitable education for all, rather than competition.  Singapore is the only exception to that. None have charter schools.

We did very well in maths, too.

It’s worth remembering all of this and celebrating how well we do as a country.

 

Where to next?

That’s not to say we don’t have areas in need of careful focus and improvement – of course we do.  All teachers know that – we all want that.  We want to be able to easily get access to professional development so we can enhance the skills we have.  We want to lift achievement in immigrants, Pacific Islanders and Maori students so that they stand a better chance of achieving the same as other groups.  We want to address the huge and worrying  disparity in achievement between the haves and the have-nots.

It’s a great system we have, and a wonderful one to build on and improve further – it isn’t in need of a complete overhaul, just the trust and respect of those in charge, and a willingness to listen to our advice, suggestions and ideas.

Then we can all get on with more of what we do well – teaching.

Sources:

[1]  http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/6091397/NZ-near-top-in-OECD-education-figures

[2] http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/government_finance/central_government/nz-in-the-oecd/education.aspx

http://skills.oecd.org/developskills/documents/11achangesinthereadingskillsof15-year-oldstudents.html

http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/government_finance/central_government/nz-in-the-oecd/what-is-the-oecd.aspx

http://www.nzinstitute.org/index.php/nzahead/measures/educational_achievement/#new-zealands-performance

http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/46619703.pdf

 

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