1 In 2 NCEA Students Not Meaningfully Supported During COVID-19
As students anxiously check their NCEA results today, adults should be aware of how COVID-19 has worsened the barriers students face in their learning, according to the head of nationwide high school tuition company, Inspiration Education.
Their recent survey of over 2,300 high school students showed that although 90% of the respondents reported that getting an education was important to them, one in three students felt they barely belonged at school or didn’t belong at all. Additionally, almost half of the students surveyed did not feel meaningfully supported by their school in 2020.
“A majority of students know that education is important, and in my experience, most want to achieve well. However, feelings of isolation and a lack of belonging can be a significant barrier to motivation and achievement,” says William Guzzo, General Manager of Inspiration Education.
“Most of my teachers have just given me workbooks to fill in but for me that didn’t help at all. If I would get confused on a question I wouldn’t be able to just raise my hand and for someone to help me,” said one respondent from the survey.
Another respondent commented that “I’ve found myself procrastinating a lot more (of which I don’t usually do a whole lot!)…I’ve also struggled with the disconnection from others (friends, teachers)… which then makes me question the importance of what I’m doing.”
These responses are particularly sobering due to the recent Education Review Office report which found that only one in four students felt like they coped with their schoolwork, both pre- and post-lockdown. Additionally, they found that “older students were less positive about teachers' care for their wellbeing”.
“As students and whanau receive their results today, it’s important to remember that grades aren’t a reflection of their intellect, ability, or value as a human being. As trusted adults, we need to affirm that grades aren’t the defining points of their lives, or a reflection of their potential or character as human beings,” says Guzzo.
“Often it can be difficult for adults to fully understand how students might be feeling. For many students, NCEA feels like the defining point of their schooling, and since teenagers have spent most of their lives at school, the defining point of their lives.”
“We need to show young people that 2020 came with extraordinary circumstances, and it’s okay if things didn’t go our way. We need to convey to them that we can’t control hardship, but we can control what we do next.”
Guzzo’s advice is similar for teachers and parents going into 2021.
“Students will still be feeling anxious and disconnected in 2021, so there needs to be a collective and concerted effort by all trusted adults – teachers, whanau, and additional support – to make students feel accepted, supported and listened to.”
“There needs to be a game plan made with each student about how they can catch up on missed learning and credits, so an extraordinary year doesn’t become a life sentence.”
“We can’t expect students to learn if they don’t feel supported, empowered and like they belong,” said Guzzo.