Long read. 1494 words.

I spent the best part of the last three days researching, reading, summarising and commenting on a range of documents relating to the education and other facets of life for young people in New Zealand. Working with young people is never depressing but what is happening to and for them is.

Some summary points (without any commentary – except when I could not help it). This looks tedious, I know, but every one is a zinger and there is so much more.

  • 2021 full attendance, Decile 9 – 10 schools = 70%.
  • 2021 full attendance, Decile 1 – 2 schools = 42%.
  • 2011 to 2021: attendance at Intermediate Schools decreased 11.8%.
  • 2011 to 2021: Y9 – 15 schools’ attendance down from 63.1% to 52.2%.
  • Asian full attendance 72%, European 63%, Maori 44%, Pasifika 44%.
  • Comparative full attendance: USA 84% to NZ 69%.
  • Comparative regular attendance: Australia 73% to NZ 68%.
  • Comparative irregular attendance: Canada 10% to NZ 28%.
  • Comparative regular attendance, primary: Ireland 88% to NZ 67.3%.
  • Comparative regular attendance, secondary: Ireland 86% to NZ 56.9%
  • Comparative UK attendance markers: UK 87%, NZ 51.64%
  • NZ attendance below the OECD average.
  • The attendance report recommends the continuation of providing the lunch in schools programme while admitting that they have no evidence that it is improving attendance or education outcomes.
  • The report notes that some children need to travel a long way each day for school and that $200m is spent each year on school transport assistance – almost exclusively for rural areas.
  • In 2020 NZ had 64,877 students chronically absent.
  • The Select Committee notes that children with absenteeism issues become educationally disengaged, are less likely to achieve qualifications, and more likely to feature in poor long-term social and economic outcomes.

AP: At this point, Sherlock Holmes blushes at what Watson says – and yet the committee’s solutions address almost none of the key educational issues. “I went to school to eat my lunch” is becoming a 21st-century NZ reality.

  • That some young people (mainly female) are engaged in sibling care is noted. The Auckland Council report notes that 86% of single-parent homes are female-led.
  • In 2020 not one parent in NZ was prosecuted for non-attendance or non-enrolment.
  • The Committee notes the support (data, etc) of the Ministry of Education but places no accountability on them for the dire situation (nor on the Minister). In fact they state: “We consider the Ministry of Education is well placed to address the causes of non-attendance”.
  • The Committee and Jan Tinetti gave no acknowledgement of school quality, teacher quality, or accountability of the Ministry that has supervised this disaster.
  • 96% of Auckland children went to ECE for 10 hours or more in the 6 months prior to schooling (Council report attributes this to National’s BPS targets).
  • 76% of Auckland’s Pasifika students are in decile 1-3 schools, 48.9% of Maori, 16.4% of Asian and 5% of European.
  • From Auckland’s decile 9 – 10 schools, 71.3% go on to tertiary education.
  • From Auckland’s decile 1 – 2 schools, 44.7% go on to tertiary education – predominantly at lower levels and with fewer completing it.
  • In 2020 1540 students left school with no qualifications (8%).
  • In 2020 2600 students left school with less than Level 2 NCEA (13.5% of leavers).
  • In 2020 8764 left with less than UE – the true change point (45.5% of leavers).
  • In the “Southern Initiative” area 32.3% of Maori leavers have less than Level 1 NCEA (in the rest of Auckland that statistic is 20%).
  • Only 14.4% of Auckland young people are attaining degrees; therefore we need to import “talent”.
  • In 2018 in Auckland there were 48,000 15-19 year olds in the work force with 21.2% not employed. Of those employed, 28.7% were “sales workers” and 21.5% were labourers.
  • The current Auckland NEET rate is the highest since 2010. In the year to December 2021 12.4% (approximately 10,000) of Auckland 15-24 year olds were Not in Employment, Education or Training (nationally 11.9%). In 2015 this figure was 9.8%.
  • Ethnic proportions for NEETs in Auckland as at December 2021: 20% Pasifika, 23% Maori, 11% European, 10% Asian.
  • Mental health has been deteriorating. The report states that this “may be reflective of the increasing complexity of challenges young people are contending with.”
  • 69% of youth have “good well-being” compared to 76% in 2021.
  • 22.7% of young females have depression symptoms, an increase from 17.4% in 2012.
  • 13% of NZ young people state they are in psychological distress.
  • NZ youth suicide rate in 2015: 14.9/100,000.
  • Only 6 schools out of 2600 bothered to submit to the Select Committee investigation into attendance and it appears the committee did not visit any.

So I woke up this morning with a smashing headache until I read this comment on the BFD:


“Visiting with our daughter and granddaughter for a couple of hours yesterday we had to share our excitement of a young lady aged 13. She was supposed to start high school this year but instead has started at the homeschooling programme run online by Alwyn Poole (think the successful Charter Schools closed down by this wretched government) with a team of experienced teachers who are so supportive to our granddaughter, (we interrupted her studies that morning but I know she will make it up later!) but had not seen either of them for some weeks and I couldn’t get over the brightness in her eyes, and the excitement when I was asking her about the programme she is undertaking.

I can guarantee you all that had she gone to the local high school the amount of information and education she is now getting is twice what she would have got and she is happy.

She has a few good friends whom she sees regularly nearby and sleepovers and outings are common place so that takes care of the social side. What impressed me was that each module she is doing or has done takes in so much, and yet gives the child the possibility to choose in some places if she would for instance prefer to learn one language over another which was suggested. Our daughter has some input and marks the work with a weekly phone support plus more I am sure should she had concerns, from the homeschooling programme.

Our granddaughter has online support from one of three teachers, depending on the day whom she can send work to for their comments and also we understand they are extending her and she is lapping it up judging by the enthusiasm.

Well done Alwyn and his team. We need more of your type of education.”


Now – that is why I get out of bed in the morning. I ate a hearty breakfast and sat down to my meetings with the wonderful set of parents and students who work through our parent-led model. In follow up this email came in (names redacted).

Hey Alwyn,

Thank you so much for all your guidance within the catch-up we all just had.  Your words are very true for XXXX.  She is really enjoying ‘doing well’ with her work and getting positive and challenging feedback from Erica.  At the start of this project she said that she wanted to work hard and will be trying to aim for merit and excellence for many of them. 

I also just wanted to say that when XXXX and I first had a zoom call with you one question you asked XXX was what her strengths were.  She replied and you then noted that you had not heard maths included in the answer.  When she replied that maths was not one of her strengths you replied with ‘yet’.

At school she always flew under the radar in maths and never asked for help and was super against getting a tutor – and she HATED maths.

Just wanted to let you know that XXX and I have been working on maths over the last 2 terms and the other day she said ‘just call me the math genius’ because she is understanding it and actually secretly i think she is now enjoying it! 

So thank you for all that this home-schooling is providing – XXX is thriving and her love of learning is now starting to really shine.


I had a pie for lunch – not because it is healthy but to remind me that a lot of good education is as “easy as pie”. Our Kiwi kids are paying a HUGE price due to so many adults putting all of this stuff in the too-hard basket – and all aspects of government have failed them massively for a while now – but especially in the last five years under the Minister for Everything.

Alwyn Poole

Innovative Education Consultants

Woman in Pink Shirt Sitting by the Table While Smiling

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