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Success in Education – The Only Lifetime Guarantee that Matters!

So Youth Guarantee is not working according to those TV experts (TV1, Sunday, 18 September 2016), a view supported by some political statements, refuted by others, and brought to the attention of the education community by Ed Insider (19 September 2016).

The TV story was a mishmash of confusion between Youth Guarantee as a policy, the Youth Guarantee Fees Free Policy and the Trades Academies that are separate from the Fees Free places but are under the Youth Guarantee Policy setting

A key reason for giving young people the opportunity to continue their education and training up to the age of 19 years without cost to them is one of providing an equitable opportunity for them to have positive outcomes. It was always wrong that students could stay in a school up to the age of 19 years and fail elegantly for free while a decision to leave at 16 years (when they legally can) to pursue their education and training in a place other than a school would cost them a great deal.

Why should schools have a monopoly on free education up to the age of 19 years?

Then there is the clear truth that many 16 year olds are ready to leave school and get on with a career especially if they perceive that their chances of scholastic success in a school setting are not strong. So many of the Youth Guarantee students who pick up the opportunity to continue at an ITP might not be the strongest group of students, but many will discover strength as a learner when they are immersed in an applied educational setting.

The whole point of understanding a multiple pathways approach to education is to see the value in students’ being able to match the pathways to their needs, their aspirations and their views of where they are headed.

The TV News reporter and others have complained that “they do not stay in the course”. A simple enquiry would have enlightened the commentators to the fact that one of the key outcomes for YG places is to see them undertake study at a higher level and that is usually not a YG fees free place. The fees free place is a point of entry. Actually the successful outcomes, while they do vary somewhat between providers, are in many instances above 75% of students and Māori and Pasifika close to these levels. These are typically students not likely to achieve these results in a school setting.

The outcomes for trades academies should be viewed a little differently as many students undertake a trades academy programme at Year 12 and return to school for Year 13 with renewed engagement – a positive outcome. Nationally students in trades academies are out-performing comparable students in the schools.

The growth of secondary / tertiary programmes is an important channel through to employment but it is an even stronger weapon in the fight against the western education systems’ ugly statistic – those who drop out completely – and join the group called NEETs (Not in Employment Education or Training). It will take a raft of initiatives to first stem the flow of young people into that group and then undertake the huge task of moving those already in the NEETs group on into productive employment and a better life.

The Youth Guarantee policy setting is not a panacea for the considerable issues education faces, nor is it on its own going to meet the BPS goals. But it is working for a considerable number of students who do not deserve to have such opportunities denied them because of the ideological whims of others who have benefitted from a sound education.

Giving young New Zealanders a guarantee that their education will prepare them for a satisfying life, a family sustaining wage and an opportunity to make a useful contribution seems the least we can do.



The Tertiary ICT Conference theme for this year is  Bring IT On which focuses on identifying and sharing the key issues and opportunities for ICT in secondary and tertiary education, now and into the future.  A must for those in ICT Management, Teaching personnel and Service delivery teams.

For more information and to register, please go to: 

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Rushed justice is crushed justice

The issue of the miscreant rowers was overlooked in amongst all the fuss. The issue was not the appropriateness of the school’s response nor was it the insertion of lawyers and injunctions into the process.

Put simply the issue was this: Why do some young people not sometimes seem to have an innate sense of right and wrong.  Here were two kids – let’s not be impressed by their athletic prowess – who took it upon themselves to leap on the baggage system at Auckland Airport, an act that was in itself contrary to the law, reckless in its lack of regard for safety, plainly stupid on every count and quite the sort of thing we have come to expect in the YouTube obsessed and hyped-up environment that young people grow up in and lust after.

So what is a school expected to do in response to this?

Well taking them out of the rowing boat at the last minute would be an excellent punishment but more so on the seven others than on the offenders.  Collateral damage doesn’t just happen in war!  A hastily put together process to consider and administer justice seldom works and even less so in the heat of the moment.

Placing them under “house arrest” might have been considered.  That would see them denied some of the pleasurable moments that the other members of the team might have. This a sort of remand on bail because ahead of that they would face the hearing and the sentencing. To try and conclude the matter away from the school and in a hurry was ill judged.

If the ongoing safety of the group had been an issue the perpetrators should have simply been stood down and sent home but it wasn’t so no useful purpose would have been served (see above).

It was my experience that often when there is an incident in a school environment or activity, there is often a demand for swift action – “justice must be dispensed and seen to be dispensed”.  In a way that is somewhat reminiscent of the British District Officer in George Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant, the decisions made in school discipline cases seem often to be made pour encourager les autres rather than to treat with fairness, balance and appropriate severity the miscreant student or students. I remember on a number of occasions as a Principal in a discipline hearing arguing along the lines that “this sort of behaviour can’t be ignored, we couldn’t run a school if everyone behaved like this.”  Was I on these occasions just a little bit scared? Just like Orwell’s officer?

The judge that granted the injunction simply decided that the punishment did not fit the crime and the situation took a couple of Gilbertian turns as newspaper columnists waded in with demands which suggested that Guantanamo Bay was too good for the likely lads and /or that this was the end of the power of Principals and the Boards and perhaps western civilisation with it.

It is probably a good thing that Principals and Boards are reigned in now and again. I am told that it is not unknown for disciplinary hearings to be attended by lawyers. I am told that sometimes that they are necessary.

There is an old saying that “justice delayed is justice denied.”  It might just as much be the case that justice rushed isn’t justice at all.  The quick trip by the Principal with lawyer in tow didn’t seem to help much in this case.

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