Broad shift in mindset needed to address deeply-rooted education inequality

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) welcomes the Ministry of Education’s review of Tomorrow’s Schools and submitted yesterday on the report Our Schooling Futures, Stronger Together l Whiria Ngā Kura Tūātinitini.

“We are grateful for the work of the Taskforce in highlighting some of the extent of educational inequality within our public education system,”  says Alan Johnson, CPAG’s Co-Convenor.

“This is a necessary and overdue conversation and the Taskforce’s efforts in starting it are admirable.”

CPAG is in wholehearted agreement with the Taskforce’s analysis that the competitive environment established by Tomorrow’s School has driven educational inequality.

“This inequality has been at the expense of children living in poor communities and especially Māori and Pasifika children,” says Johnson.

“That such inequality should have been created and sustained within an educational system which is largely publicly owned and mostly publicly funded is to us quite appalling.”

CPAG believes that the ingrained and enduring inequalities are more a consequence of values and behaviours in our wider society rather than the result of a particular approach to how we have organised our compulsory education system.

“Addressing the inequality which CPAG believes is endemic in the compulsory education system will require a radical ‘hearts and minds’ change in the way knowledge and learning are conceived in schools, in the cultural values under which they operate and in the relationships between students, their teachers and their whānau,” says Johnson.

“The consistently poor outcomes for Maori students and for students from lower decile schools are not the consequence of some natural order or state of nature but are produced by a system which is biased and indifferent towards those in the minority or cultural perspectives which are different to the mainstream.”

CPAG says that there is a need to consider what systemic changes could be made to address the obvious bias and prejudice which is directed at children from disadvantaged families and toward Māori and Pasifika students especially

“These changes could perhaps consider changes to pedagogy and other teacher practice as well as curriculum design and school culture,” says Johnson.

CPAG urges the Ministry to consider other possible models for the future roles of Boards including an option to have one Board per community/suburb rather than one Board per school, and to implement a rights-based approach to supporting and protecting the interests of children with disabilities and serious learning needs.

For more information download CPAG’s full submission.