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Better Student Support But 72% Of Primary Principals Think Too Much Is Being Asked Of Schools

Results from NZCER’s latest 3-yearly National Survey of English-medium primary schools show that more attention is being paid to improving the school experiences and outcomes for Māori students, Pacific students, and students with disability or learning support needs in 2019 compared with 2016.

Some positive shifts in how schools support student wellbeing are also evident, and teachers and schools are more alert to students’ mental health needs.

Parents’ views of their child’s school experience and learning remain positive. More parents saw their child’s teachers as committed and enthusiastic, and felt their child’s cultural identity was recognised and respected than in 2016.

“There are some really positive changes occurring in primary schools”, Dr Cathy Wylie, Chief Researcher, said. “However, the survey findings also point to the need for schools to have more support.”

  • 72% of principals say too much is being asked of schools, up from 53% in 2016, and 42% in 2013.
  • Principals in 2019 have higher stress levels, are more tired, and more say they do not have enough time for educational leadership.
  • 63% of principals identify support for students with mental health or additional wellbeing needs as a major issue for their school.
  • 41% of principals still need but cannot access external expertise to implement reliable strategies to improve Māori student learning
  • 25% of primary teachers often experience student behaviour that causes serious disruption in their class, and another 42% experience this sometimes.
  • 24% of teachers feel unsafe in their class occasionally in 2019, double the twelve percent in 2016.
  • Parents of students with disability or learning support needs are less positive than other parents about their child’s learning and school experiences.

The NZCER 2019 national survey of primary schools was sent to principals, teachers, school trustees, and parents at a representative sample of 350 primary and intermediate schools. Responses were recieved from 145 principals, 620 teachers from 181 schools, 126 trustees, and 395 parents from 170 schools. Although the survey response rate were relatively low, the responses came from a broadly representative spread in terms of school characteristics.

Find the full findings and summary at:

Established in 1934, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) is an independent research and development organisation, operating under its own legislation. NZCER plays a leading role in research, developing tools, and providing services that drive effective learning and positive change in policy and practice. We use the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa to help us uphold mana Māori in our work, relationships, and ways of working.

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