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Discipline in schools tops list of concerns

Discipline in schools tops list of concerns for parents

A new report released today reveals that discipline is what concerns parents most about schooling in New Zealand.

The report by Maxim Institute, A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand is based on independent qualitative research and records what parents think of different aspects of the schooling system.

Parents think their children should be taught that "there are certain things that are acceptable and certain things that aren't" an Auckland parent says. "Without discipline you have no respect", said another participant.

Director of Maxim's Centre for Education, Paul Henderson says this result is significant. "When more than 75% of a cross section of parents say that they are concerned about discipline in schools then principals, teachers and the Ministry need to listen".

Parents recognise that good discipline is essential to their children's education. An Auckland participant commented on the importance of discipline in the classroom. "[My son] is not focusing because of the distractions going on around him, and because of the chaos and unorderliness of it. Now if there was more order in the classroom, I think his chances would be far better", she says.

According to Mr Henderson, these parental concerns are backed up by international research such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2000 which shows that class interruption negatively affects pupil achievement. "This report shows that the concerns of parents are valid and need to be taken into account by those that make decisions about the education of their children".

Mr Henderson says schools need to have higher expectations of their students and the confidence and ability to take more effective action to ensure a disciplined environment. However, this is not just an issue for schools but for families and communities. "Parents want schools to support the discipline and values of home to bring discipline into the classroom and generate consistency", says Mr Henderson.

The report also highlights that parents are concerned about the funding of schools, the quality of teachers, the NCEA, boys' education and the curriculum.

Maxim Institute commissioned an independent researcher to undertake the qualitative research for A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand. Consumerlink was chosen to select a cross-section of parents, representing children from low decile primary and secondary schools, high decile primary and secondary schools, low socio-economic areas and children who attended private or integrated schools.

The full report and a summary of the report are available on request or from Maxim's website from Monday on http://www.maxim.org.nz/

Maxim Institute is a public policy think-tank funded by donations.

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