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Students have their say on education policy

Election: Students have their say on education policy

21 September 2017


New Zealand high school students want policymakers to bring more life skills, mental health services and balanced workloads to the classroom.

Ahead of this weekend’s election, free online NCEA support platform StudyTime asked a selection of Wellington high school students what they think about the education system.

View a video of their answers here.

Although the students can’t vote, their answers give an interesting perspective from the coal face of the education system, said William Guzzo whose tutoring service, Inspiration Education, runs StudyTime.

The students spoke to StudyTime about the lack of life skills - such as writing CVs and financial literacy - currently available at schools.

Guzzo, 26, said the students reflected what others had told him about today’s classrooms, and voters should consider their concerns.

“As someone who talks to young people on a daily basis, the students’ points of views were unsurprising - but nonetheless sad to hear.

“The purpose of education is to provide mobility so that anyone can shape their own future. I'm saddened that young people don't see their education doing that for them and am concerned about the way these young people perceive education and schooling as they grow up.”

He said there was more pressure on today’s students, and they are leaving high school “stressed, disempowered and disengaged” from education.

Newlands College head boy Ben Murdoch told StudyTime he felt NCEA was “a lot of just ticking the boxes”.

“[It] may not actually be that good for learning or what’s outside of school,” he said.

Wellington College student Niklas Jung said exams “are definitely the most stressful part” of growing up and Wellington East Girls’ College student Aine Milne said she did not feel prepared for life after high school.

“I feel like after high school, going into university we get chucked in the deep end. I feel like it wouldn’t be as bad if they told us about like money and stuff… [they don’t really teach] life lessons.”

Some of the students’ concerns were being clearly voiced on the StudyTime Facebook page, which has almost 20,000 followers.

Guzzo was also concerned by students feeling there was a lack of mental health services and a stigma of coming forward for help.

“One thing I have anecdotally noticed over the past years with students is that the mental health struggles are increasing - and the support systems for students are not there.”

Wellington College student Sam Nelson agreed. “They give no help towards that, it’s just, if you have to do it, ‘suck it up’. They should probably get more people in to help with that.”

Guzzo says the students answers showed a “disempowered undertone”.

“Not feeling they can reach out for help; feeling uninspired; feeling stressed, anxious and unprepared for the future.

“We need to listen to our young people. We ask educational experts, parents and teachers about their views on education, but we hardly ever ask students themselves.

“As evidenced from the above, students are pretty perceptive about what they want out of education - so as adults, sometimes we need to shut our mouths and just listen and understand. By doing this, we will start to solve the failures of our current education system.”

StudyTime is the NCEA branch of tutoring service Inspiration Educationwhich has more than 100 tutors who’ve helped hundreds of high school students throughout New Zealand understand course content and prepare for exams.

It was founded by Guzzo after his own experiences in the New Zealand education system inspired him to help other students achieve academically.

ENDS

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