PPTA News article responding to comments made by Principal youth court judge Andrew Becroft at the New Zealand School Trustees Association conference.
Should schools be a hub for social services?
Principal youth court judge Andrew Becroft is calling for more at-risk students to be kept at school and YouthLaw legal advocates recommend an independent appeal panel be set up.
Behaviours that lead to suspension and exclusion need early intervention
PPTA president Robin Duff welcomed the increased interest in the welfare of at-risk students but felt the advice offered by both parties was somewhat off the mark, given the issues created by Tomorrow’s Schools and the lack of resources and support available for those students.
Duff also felt the complex social issues discussed were being over simplified.
“Both parties focus on the issues affecting young people who are excluded from school but not the issues that lead to them being excluded in the first place,” he said.
Becroft spoke to a recent New Zealand School Trustees Association conference about reducing the rates of stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions and argued that staying in school was a hugely important protective factor against crime. This prompted Duff to write to the judge.
School 'choice' and competition work against keeping disruptive children in school
“PPTA strongly advocates for a safe and inclusive public education system but there are competing tensions between these goals. Balancing this is one of the more difficult roles of boards of trustees and school leaders and increasingly it is becoming clear that the market pressures of Tomorrow’s Schools has contributed to this,” Duff said.
Becroft believed schools should become a hub for social service provision for those at-risk students.
Schools as a social service hub is a great idea but NZ must first move away from a market approach to education
Duff recognised the wider social good of this ideal but said it was quite a different goal from what many parents wanted for their own children.
“Our research shows that over 70% of parents are concerned about disruptions to their children’s learning from other students.
Teachers’ experience is that parents’ first priority is the academic success of their own children.”
In light of this Duff believed the real focus of Becroft’s message should be parents and communities.