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Ogilvy: Regional patterns to school suspension

Friday, 24 September, 2004

Ogilvy: Regional patterns to school suspension and expulsion rates rise

Following revelations last month by United Future that the number of children being removed from primary schools for bad behaviour has increased by nearly a third since 2000, the party's education spokesman, Bernie Ogilvy, today released figures which suggest that the problem worse in some region than others.

The Ministry of Education divides schools into four regions, and the two that have experienced the largest increase in primary school suspensions and stand-downs since 2000 are the Northern region (Auckland and Northland), up by 54%, and the Southern region (the South Island), where removals have increased by 46%.

"The types of behaviour driving these specific regional increases are physical and verbal assaults on staff and other students, and continual disobedience.

"Nationally, primary schools have also increasingly ejected children for alcohol consumption (up 25%), and sexual misconduct or harassment (up 42%), smoking (up 38%), theft (up 59%), and vandalism (up 69%)", Mr Ogilvy said.

The increase in primary school removals in the remainder of the North Island are below the national increase of 31%, with the Central North region (Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, East Cape, Raglan, Taupo, Thames/Coromandel, King Country) reporting a 25% rise, and the Central South (Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua/Manawatu, Wanganui/Taranaki) recording a smaller 12% increase.

"Nevertheless, the fact that nationwide our youngest kids are increasingly getting into trouble is a cause for huge concern."

The pattern of suspensions, stand-downs and expulsions from secondary schools is somewhat different, Mr Ogilvy said.

The biggest increases in removals were from high schools in the Central South region (22%), followed by the Northern region (17%). Rates at schools in the Central North and Southern regions remained stable.

"The increase in secondary school removals in the Northern and Central South regions seems to be driven by episodes of continual disobedience, physical assaults on students, theft, vandalism, verbal assaults on staff, and possession of weapons.

"But the common element is that things seem to be getting worse for both primary and secondary schools in Auckland and Northland."

"The answer is obvious. Parents and schools need to instil values in our children. We need parenting education programmes that don't just focus on 'at-risk' families, and each school needs to have some sort of character education programme in place."

Successive governments have failed to take up the call for character education, despite the fact that the 1993 Curriculum Framework requires the teaching of attitudes and values as well as knowledge and skills.


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