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Ministry of Education praised for improving achievement

Ministry of Education praised for improving achievement, retention
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States Services Commissioner Iain Rennie praised the Ministry of Education for leading a programme that is seeing marked improvements in achievement and retention of students in schools.

Called Positive Behaviour for Learning “School-Wide” (PB4L), the initiative has helped schools and whanau address problem behaviour, strengthen relationships and improve school culture.

“As in many other issues, government departments, the community and whanau have to work closely to make real changes and effectively deliver better public services,” Mr Rennie said.

“This initiative shows that the Ministry of Education and its partners have done just that for the benefit of our school children and I recognise them for this achievement,” Mr Rennie said.

Many of the PB4L programme’s initiatives were developed by the Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development (Child Youth and Family), the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, and the New Zealand Police.


The 2013 PB4L Update, available from the Ministry of Education, showed that the 408 schools implementing PB4L “School-Wide”were reaping positive results. In depth analysis of 86 schools that commenced“School-Wide” in 2010 showed improvements in student retention and NCEA Level 1 achievement rates. Stand down rate have also decreased. Stand downs are used when a student’s behaviour has become difficult and time out of school is required to stabilise the situation.

The progress was also notable when comparing achievement, retention and stand down rates of schools implementing “School-Wide” with schools that were not implementing the programme.

Anecdotal feedback from parents, whanau, teachers and schools has also been overwhelmingly positive.

PB4L in action

Murray Bootten, Principal at Naenae Primary School and one of the champions of the PB4L “School-Wide” programme says, “Before our school started the programme in 2010, our main behaviour issues were aggression, fighting and intimidation of staff and students.

“We’ve gone from a situationwherechildren were looking over their shoulder to see who was going to get them next, to now where we have very few incidences of bad behaviour,” says Mr Bootten.

Julie Anderson, Principal at Queen’s High School in Dunedin said she likes PB4L because it encourages schools to find their own solutions to create more positive learning environments.

“Using the PB4L approach, we found that many referrals, where students were sent out of class for misbehaving, happened when students moved from class to interval or lunch breaks. We encouraged our students to find a solution. And they did. They put a roading system in the corridors, complete with markings. Congestion and frustration has eased and we’re now getting around more calmly,” Mrs Anderson said.

‘Ka Pai’ cards are another PB4L initiative improving relationships at Queen’s High. “The cards are used to reward positive behaviour. They go towards movie and canteen vouchers and relate to our house points system,” says Mrs Anderson.

“These approaches are really working. Referral rates dropped 75 per cent among some Year 10 students in 2013. Across the school, they dropped by 47 per cent between 2012 and 2013. PB4L has helped teachers and students feel that we are all on the same side. That has really helped the school culture,” says the Queen’s High School principal.

The 2013 PB4L Update report also presents findings from an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Incredible Years programme targeted at parents. The evaluation showed positive behaviour change was achieved for children whose parents participated in the programme. Over 9,600 parents have participated in the Incredible Years Parent programme and 6,300 teachers have been involved in the Incredible Years Teacher programme.

Collaborating, building strong relations

“We have seen that collaborating and building strong relationships with key partners in the education and community sectors help ensure that programmes reach the right communities and are more effective,” PB4L Programme Manager Virginia Burton-Konia said.

“I think PB4L’s success is due to the commitment and drive of the organisations involved around increasing educational achievement and improving children’s wellbeing,” Ms Burton-Konia said.


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