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Turner: listen & speak (in that order)

Media statement
For immediate release
Thursday, 31 January 2008


Turner: listen & speak (in that order)

UnitedFuture deputy leader and family spokesperson Judy Turner says policies to improve outcomes for young New Zealanders and reduce youth crime rates as announced by both National and Labour are largely a re-hash of ideas that have been floating around for ages.

"Some have merit and are worth exploring; others are pure populism.

"What was lacking from both speeches was evidence that either of the two old parties have been listening to anything that has been said by those working in schools and in the community with young people.

"If they are genuinely concerned about the high number of young people leaving school without qualifications and employable skills; if they are authentically worried about those dropping out of school and leading directionless and benefit-dependent lives, then my plea to the government and opposition parties is that they listen before speaking.

"The problem of young people disconnecting with or dropping out of school is a problem that tends to become more observably obvious during the emerging adolescent phase of development.

"In NZ terms that is the year 7 - 10 students (or Forms 1- 4 if you still think in yesterday's school terminology).

"Many questions are being asked about whether the less pastoral environment of a high-school is detrimental for years 9 and 10 students who are not yet facing NCEA requirements and who can feel like they are in an organisational vacuum swapping classrooms and teachers every 50 minutes.

"John Schollum from Havelock North Intermediate School recently commented 'NZAIMS (New Zealand Association for Intermediate and Middle Schooling) has been lobbying the Minister of Education for the past ten years for formal recognition of 'middle schooling' research, policy development, as well as a strategy for middle schooling'.

In an editorial Dr Pat Nolan, Professor of Education from Massey University wrote "The research says that programmes that are heavily academic and specialised and not open to scrutiny are outdated and unsuited for anyone. During early adolescences it's vital to keep young adolescents fired up, motivated and eager to learn."

Brian Hinchco from Papatoetoe Intermediate commented in the Education Gazette that "Every one of these young people (10 - 14 year olds) undergo the second greatest physiological and psychological change of their personal development (after the years 0 - 2)"

"What is obvious when you sit and talk to educationalists and community youth workers is that that we need to be investing way more in this critical age group if we want to see negative youth statistics turned around.

"Both Key and Clarke need to offer some resourcing to this group if they want to be taken seriously on this subject," says Mrs Turner.

ENDS

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