2 February 2006
Time to dispense with secondary ‘failure’ myth
It is time to dispense with the mythology that students turn up at secondary school and suddenly fail, PPTA president
Debbie Te Whaiti said today.
She said comments criticising the achievement of Year 9 students at Bay of Islands College were effectively attacks on
the professionalism of the teachers at the school doing their utmost to improve student achievement.
“I am tired of hearing stories about apparently successful primary students magically turning into non-achievers the
minute they start secondary school.
“The transition from primary to secondary school may be difficult for some students but there’s no evidence it causes
them to suddenly fail. If there are still students entering secondary school struggling to read and write, we need to
ask: has that been identified beforehand and, if so, has remedial action been taken?
“All schools in the compulsory sector have a responsibility to identify students with inadequate literacy and numeracy
skills and put the appropriate teaching programmes in place.”
Te Whaiti also questioned whether the new interim arrangement that would keep Bay of Islands year 9 students in
satellite classes at Kawakawa and Moerewa Primary Schools would be any better for the students in the long run.
“The practicalities for a start are difficult and the arrangement appears to be based on two unfounded assumptions: that
students who go to Bay of Islands College will suddenly perform poorly (raw 2005 results show students at the College
are performing well above the decile average at NCEA Level 1, a marked improvement on previous years) and secondly, that
keeping them in a quasi middle* school will be any better for them.
“What is going to happen after a year when these students have been held back from the secondary system, without the
requisite specialist subject teaching?”