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First national secondary school survey for 10 yrs


First national secondary school survey for 10 years released

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) today released a comprehensive national survey of secondary schools, the first systematic survey of its type in more than a decade. The survey looks at a wide range of issues including funding, resourcing, governance, staffing, and staff morale.

NZCER Senior Researcher Rosemary Hipkins says a key finding of the survey was the very different learning experiences for students in schools of different decile.

“Students and teachers in high decile and state integrated schools generally have access to better resources, and are better funded. Parents of students in these schools are likely to spend more on their children’s education, including after-school activities and tuition, and to be in better touch with teachers and trustees at the school.

“By contrast parents of students in low decile schools are more likely to want more challenging learning for their children. Some parents mentioned they had not been able to send their children to their school of first choice, especially in urban areas where many larger schools have established enrolment schemes.”

Most schools, and especially lower decile schools, were seen to be experiencing difficulty attracting suitably qualified teachers and relieving teachers, particularly in the core curriculum subjects. For a variety of reasons, around half the teachers expected to be leaving teaching within the next five years, with mid-career teachers those most likely to be staying.

The study also showed a consensus amongst principals, teachers, trustees, and parents that funding was one of the key issues facing boards and schools, with most schools employing and funding teaching staff in addition to their staffing entitlement.

“While many schools struggle to make ends meet financially, and undertake fund raising with varying degrees of success, the highest contribution to locally raised funds for larger high decile schools is from international students,” said Ms Hipkins.

Other key findings of the National Survey - Secondary include:
- Principals’ work an average 67 hour week and morale is generally high.
- Teachers’ morale is generally lower than that of principals – teachers work an average 17 extra hours per week above their class-contact time.
- Ease of student access to computers is seen as a barrier to the use of ICT for learning but teachers also need more time to build their confidence and skill levels.
- Parents are generally satisfied with their children’s education. Areas in which they would like more information included their children’s progress and achievement, assessment including the NCEA, and school planning.
- Direct parental involvement in school activities was generally low due to work commitments, and involvement was usually in one-off activities such as school trips.
- Most schools have an established process for school self review.
For more information on these issues, see the attached 4-page summary of the research findings.

Survey parameters and further findings

Field-work for the survey was carried out in mid-2003 with 95 principals from a range of school types and deciles, 744 teachers from a range of curriculum subjects, 180 school trustees and 503 parents of students in some of the sample schools responding to comprehensive questionnaires.

NZCER has been monitoring the impact of evolution of education reforms in primary and early childhood education centres regularly since 1989. The primary school report from this national survey series is due for release in the first quarter of 2005, and the early childhood education findings are due for publication release in term two 2005.

The 4-page summary of the research findings is attached, while the full report can be downloaded from the NZCER website



The New Zealand Council for Educational Research is an independent, educational research organisation which provides educators, students, parents, policy makers and the public with innovative and independent research, analysis, and advice. Established in 1934 through grants from the Carnegie Corporation, it became a statutory body in 1945 and now operates under the NZCER Act 1972 (and amendments). It is not attached to any government department, university or other educational organisation.

For more information, please visit our website

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