Teen to miss last day of classes rather than face peers after speech row.

The 15-year-old schoolgirl at the centre of a fracas over a provocative speech says she never had a problem with the teacher she delivered it to.

Anela Pritchard, a Year 10 student at Napier Girls' High School, made a school speech to her class that claimed her teachers needed to work harder rather than "sit around and do nothing".

She emailed teachers copies of the speech and posted it on her Facebook page, where it continues to gather thousands of likes and shares.

But Anela said yesterday at a specially arranged press conference it was not aimed at the classroom teacher, who took it personally and left the room "very sad".


"I have never had a problem with her before and I actually do like her," she said.

The speech was delivered last week, after which she was told she should stay at home "until such a time as I could have an interview with the headmistress".

Tomorrow was to be Anela's last day of school but she has decided not to go back. She is moving to Sydney where she is enrolled in school and will live with her brother.

"I don't really think going back to school is the best thing right now.

A lot of teachers and students now strongly dislike me and I didn't want to put myself in that situation, where it is everyone against me," she said.

Anela and her father Andrew Pritchard met with principal Mary Nixon and the dean on Tuesday afternoon.

They had hoped for an apology but were disappointed, Mr Pritchard said.

"We left the meeting a little dumbfounded."


But Ms Nixon said the matter was "resolved".

In a statement she said Anela was never suspended from the school and she had met Anela and her father at the earliest convenience for all involved.

"Colleagues and students in the wider school were shocked and upset [about the speech]," she said.

The teenager's comments have ignited debate over the merits and flaws of the education system.

Many have applauded her for speaking her mind and drawing attention to what they see as problems.

Others have defended the profession and pointed the finger at wider issues, including teacher exhaustion, relatively poor pay, a lack of resources and a limited pool of qualified candidates.

One student, who had the same English teacher as Anela, said she was one of the "kindest, most compassionate teachers I ever had".

"She has taken me for two years and hopefully I will have her again next year."

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the school needed to be given space to work out exactly what had happened and its response.

"I am aware of the story, and I understand that the ministry and the school are sorting out actually whether she was stood down or not. So that is a matter for them," she said.

In her speech, Anela criticised her teachers for making students feel useless and teaching them irrelevant information instead of how to survive in the real world.

"Like it's our fault that we don't understand the work. Maybe some of us just don't understand it. Or maybe the teacher didn't teach it very well, but we're the ones dealing with the consequences of failure."

American high school student Jeff Bliss, who criticised his teacher in the same way, was not disciplined for what he said.

A video of the 18-year-old student telling his history teacher to "take this job seriously" went viral in 2013 but the school decided not to take any disciplinary action.

A student responds

One student at Napier Girls' High School has spoken out in defence of a teacher of the outspoken Year 10 student, Anela Pritchard.

The student, who had the same English teacher as Miss Pritchard, said she was one of the "kindest, most compassionate teachers I ever had".

"She has taken me for two years and hopefully, I will have her again next year." The student added her schoolmate was entitled to her opinion, but she could have voiced it more effectively.

"Although it is Anela's right to freedom of speech, the way that she worded it could have been much better. Sending the speech to other teachers was also inappropriate and immature. Posting it online has blown the entire issue out of proportion."

The student also defended her school's right to act as they did.

"I know myself and many other students back them with everything they have done on this issue."

A teacher responds

One school teacher, Johanna McHardy, said while she supported the comments about teachers who "hand out papers and do not actually teach", the reasons for this need to be explored further.

She said some key issues were teacher exhaustion as a result of working 70-plus hours with relatively poor pay, a lack of qualified candidates, frustration with increasing administration work and constant changes to the achievement standards.

Ms McHardy added it was hard for a young person to understand how what she considers to be irrelevant information could lead to high-powered careers that will enable understanding of other life issues, such as mortgages, taxes and cars.

"I would support more directed education to help students consider the trades and have courses that are more appropriate for them. I believe that the pressure from government and the 'need to produce results' is causing the choice of courses that will ensure success but could be of little use further down the educational track," she said.

Our report about Anela Pritchard sparked a wave of reaction. Here is a small sample:

• So, it seems if they fail, blame it on the teacher. Next minute they will be demanding the teacher do their work for them. - Tiria

• I'm a mum of a 17-year-old who is constantly coming home and complaining that her teachers don't teach. One class she has has a "fun lesson" once a week. Which is an hour of students sitting in class txting with the teacher sitting at the back of the room on her laptop. Students are not allowed to do other work during this "fun lesson". My daughter wants to learn but it's actively being discouraged. - Tan Joll

• I loved her honesty and fair-mindedness. Teachers should be regularly evaluated by their pupils. - Bruce

• I wonder what happened to free speech? If this is how you feel you should be able to voice it and not be stood down or punished in any way. - G. Sundes

• Anytime this girl wants to see how difficult/easy it is to be a teacher, I invite her to come over to ours for a week. She can get up at 5.45am so to be at the school at 7.00 when it is likely that the first meeting will be 7.30.

She can enjoy her day between the class, the road patrol, more meetings, disruptive children who try to strangle other children, undoubtedly another meeting or two, and leave for home usually about 5.00 and have continuous classes based on a racially politically correct agenda somewhere in-between. When she gets in at about 5.45 after battling the traffic to get home, she can begin marking whatever work is required or spend time compiling the endless reports that the uninterested parents are insistent on seeing and the gummermint insists is showing that some special little bundle can be relied on to stop picking their nose and wiping it on others. - Paul Spencer

- Hawke's Bay Today