Principal Anne Cooper: Fed up being told we fail Maori students

By principal Whangarei Girls' High School, Anne Cooper

11 comments
Anne Cooper
Anne Cooper

I want to comment on your editorial on November 27 titled "Let's give schools a fair go."

I am most interested as to your sources regarding "... are all about raising Maori kids' achievements. This isn't happening in mainstream schooling ..." I would like to challenge this comment. Obviously I can only speak for our school, but our Maori achievement is increasing and is way ahead of Maori students nationally.

Level 1

WGHS overall 74.5 per cent.

WGHS Maori 67.1 per cent.

Maori national 49.8 per cent.

Level 2

WGHS overall 85.5 per cent.

WGHS Maori 83.3 per cent.

Maori national 58.9 per cent.

Level 3

WGHS overall 66.1 per cent.

WGHS Maori 58.1 per cent.

Maori national 43 per cent.

We have worked extremely hard for this and are continuing to do so. We are also committing a great deal of resourcing into improving Maori achievement. I find it ironic that if our schools are all failing Maori so badly, as your editorial implies, that the partnership schools would want their students to come back and be taught by the same teachers who have been failing them so badly.

I am offended by your comment about "taking them off our hands". We strongly value our Maori students and their culture and aim for all our students to feel comfortable in both worlds as we are predominantly a bicultural school community.

Quite frankly, I am fed up with being told we are failing our Maori students. Yes, there is still a gap needing to be addressed, but we are slowly but surely closing it, particularly at the all important Level Two.

Your editorial implies that the partnership schools will be taking the 25 per cent tail "off our hands" and I would be most interested in knowing what information you have to support that as I have not seen any. My understanding is that these schools are open to all students, including the 75 per cent who are succeeding in state schools.

I agree with your comments regarding job losses and falling rolls. My issue is with the total lack of information we have received from the Ministry of Education. I want to know what the plan is nationally and what evidence underpins the introduction of partnership schools in New Zealand?

Is the plan to privatise education?

The next round of applications have now been called for and we have still received no information from the Ministry of Education. There is clearly an equity issue - partnership schools can be either not-for-profit or for-profit. They are funded as Decile 3 schools, which is a higher level of funding than what we receive and they will have "greater freedom and flexibility to innovate and engage with their students ..." Furthermore, they have the freedom to spend this funding how they please - we do not.

By all means enter into the debate - it is certainly one with many points of view - locally and nationally - and there is a good debate to be had.

However, please do not write that our mainstream state schools are not raising Maori achievement or that we are keen to have "these kids taken off our hands" so that we can improve our statistics.

We are working extremely hard and have a great deal more dedication, commitment and professionalism than this comment implies. Just reading that makes me cringe for all Maori students in our schools.

The other point that has not been raised is that we have kura kaupapa in our community. You need to look no further to "test the popular theory that Maori students will benefit from closer association with their culture".

- Northern Advocate

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