It's not every parents' nightmare but concerning enough for many of us to lose sleep - more of our kids are finishing their schooling years without any qualifications.
This week, the Ministry of Education revealed the number of teens leaving with no qualification rose for the second consecutive year in 2019 - with boys and Māori worst affected.
Twelve per cent of last year's school leavers had no NCEA qualification, up from 11 per cent in 2018, the first year an increase had been recorded.
The group represented 7464 out of more than 61,000 young people who left school last year, and numbered several hundred more than 2018.
It's not the end of the world. There is no shortage of successful people who achieved great things despite flunking out in school. But it's a given that good school reports and certificates are a better pad to launch from.
It's too soon to know how the disruptions of Covid-forced lockdowns will have affected students, but it is unlikely to be beneficial. Students not attending classes was already linked to the decline in achievements, according to Secondary Principals' Association president Deidre Shea.
"The ministry has been concerned for a little while about the decreasing number of students, or proportion of students, who attend school regularly over the last few years," she said.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
On the plus side, it may be that some students simply didn't need qualifications to get where they wanted to be. Education Ministry's acting group manager of secondary- tertiary, Richard D'Ath, said reasons varied, but often had to do with the labour market and employment opportunities.
"Since 2015, the labour market has been strong and provided opportunities for young people. This may have led some young people to leave school early to enter the workforce."
D'Ath said the ministry and the Qualifications Authority were tracking student progress this year, but they appeared to be performing at a similar level to last year once the impact of bonus "learning recognition credits" were taken into account.
Leaving school is an exciting time for young New Zealanders, and leaving with a taste for achievement is all the more of a relief for their parents.