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Children born in the later half of each year have a better chance of doing well at high school years later, a new study suggests.
A prize-winning study by University of Canterbury economists Asaad Ali and Andrea Menclova has found that a child’s chances of achieving University Entrance (UE) increase by about 5 per cent for every extra month spent in Years 0 and 1.
Children born in June have the highest chances of achieving UE because many schools put them into Year 0 for the rest of the year in which they turn 5, and then give them a whole Year 1 starting the next February.
Children born in May have the lowest chances of later achievement because they often go straight into Year 2 the next February, giving them about half a year less time in primary school than children born a month later.
The unique study was made possible by the New Zealand system in which most children start school as soon as they turn 5.
In most other developed countries, children all start school at the start of the next school year after they turn the required age, so they all receive the same amount of primary schooling.
However similar findings to the NZ study have been found for the Netherlands, where most children start school as soon as they turn 4.
The paper uses Statistics NZ’s integrated data infrastructure (IDI), which allows researchers to trace individuals anonymously through multiple data sets. It won a Statistics NZ prize for “best use of official statistics” at this year’s Association of Economists conference.
“This is the first time I have done research in education economics,” he said. “My thesis for my Master’s was in banking, in Pakistan.”
The pair did not have data on when children actually started school, so their calculations are based on the time that they potentially started, and hence the amount of time they potentially spent in primary school.
They found that, for NZ-born children who left secondary school between 2009 and 2016, every extra month of potential time in primary school lifted their chances of achieving the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1 by 2 per cent – after allowing for decile and other factors.
Each extra month also lifted their chances of achieving NCEA Level 2 by 4 per cent, NCEA Level 3 by 6 per cent and UE by 5 per cent.
Later birthdays made slightly more difference for boys than for girls, but there was no clear pattern by ethnicity or decile, with the strongest effects tending to be in mid-decile schools.
The authors tested their findings against migrant and refugee children, finding that their birthdays made no difference because most started school in countries where children all started together at the start of each school year.
But international fee-paying students, who were also born overseas, showed similar birthday effects as NZ-born students – suggesting that the birthdays might actually be purely random variables.
Auckland Primary Principals’ Association president Heath McNeil said schools were free to set their own policies about when children were classified as Year 0 or Year 1.
He said the cutoff for Ministry of Education funding was July 1. Five-year-olds starting before July 1 are classed as Year 1 and those starting after that date are classed as Year 0 in the rest of that year for funding purposes.
“So some schools use that cutoff, but many others use their own dates between May and June,” he said. “Others use the end of Term 1 as their cutoff.”
Statistically speaking, Tianna Steele has a better chance of getting University Entrance than her sister Sienna because Tianna’s birthday is later in the year.
Tianna started school as soon as she turned 5 in September 2017, so she had three months in Year 0 before doing Year 1 last year and is now in Year 2.
Sienna will start school when she turns 5 next March, so she will probably get slightly less than a full year in Year 1 next year before she goes on to Year 2 at the start of 2021.
But their grandmother Christine Allan, who took them on a school-holiday outing to Auckland’s Sky City yesterday, is sceptical about whether Tianna’s extra four months or so of primary schooling will really make much difference to her later school achievement.
“Well yes, it’s a pretty good theory – in theory,” she said.
“I’m not too sure about that, to be honest. I think it’s more either the teacher or smaller classes than how much time they have in school.”
Tianna said there were 18 or 20 other students in her class when she started at Rutherford Primary School in Te Atatū.
“We became friends,” she said.
By contrast, her grandmother can remember classes of 40 at her primary school in Waitara in the 1960s.
“Back then when I was at school, it wasn’t that wonderful,” she said.
“It depended on the teachers, to be honest. If you have a good teacher it makes all the difference.
“I’m speaking from experience. I’m from a big family, there were 11 of us and none of us did very well at school.
“They [her grandchildren’s generation] have got fantastic teachers. They really do make a difference, they are more caring. I think it was just a job before.”
Kindergarten teachers have been offered pay parity with school teachers after four days negotiating with the Ministry of Education.
The new pay offer would also see union members get a one-off lump sum of $1500.
Under the settlement negotiated by NZEI Te Riu Roa, kindy teachers would get pay parity with primary and secondary school teachers, with the same pay increases and unified pay scale that primary teachers accepted in their settlement.
That means teachers at the top of the basic scale would see an 18.5 per cent pay hike by July 2021.
Head and senior teachers’ pay would also go up, with the head teacher allowance incorporated into the pay rate.
The settlement would also include changes to tea time and lunch breaks and a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Union members will vote on the offer on July 25.
The offer would cost the Ministry of Education $75.3 million over three years, said the ministry’s deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid.
“This is a very good offer which is comparable to the offer primary teachers accepted,” she said.
Lead negotiator Virginia Oakly said the proposed settlement (PDF) didn’t address all the unions’ claims, particularly around workload, expertise allowances and career pathways.
“However, it does include parity with the compulsory sector and the pay increases that primary teachers fought very long and hard for. It will be up to members to decide whether that is enough to settle for, or if they want to fight on,” she said.
Meanwhile National’s early childhood spokeswoman Nicola Willis says a critical shortage of qualified teachers is forcing many preschool centres to hire unqualified staff.
The numbers of unqualified staff in early childhood education (ECE) leapt by 55 per cent in the past four years, from 6427 in 2014 to 9951 last year, while qualified ECE teachers increased by only 14 per cent, from 18,857 to 21,467.
The numbers of children enrolled in ECE was virtually static over the same period, rising only 0.3 per cent from 200,002 to 200,588.
The number of ECE services increased by 6 per cent, from 4299 to 4563, as mainly private early childhood centres proliferated especially in fast-growing centres such as Auckland.
Willis said it was good that parents now had more centres to choose from, but they needed qualified teachers.
“I can remember a time when parents struggled to get a place in an early childhood service. That is less likely now,” she said.
But she said the number one concern she saw when she visited centres was “the dire and growing shortage of qualified teachers to staff our ECE services”.
“This is putting pressure on ECE centres with some experiencing problems including struggling to replace staff, being forced to rely on relievers, growing teacher to child ratios, and employing fewer qualified staff,” she said.
She had launched a survey of all ECE services to assess the extent of the staffing shortage
In the next 10 years, 100,000 more children are expected to enrol in New Zealand schools.
In response to this “unprecedented population growth,” the Ministry of Education established the National Education Growth Plan (NEGP) earlier this month.
The NEGP includes a wide set of reforms: tightening of school enrolment schemes at 103 Auckland state schools, redeveloping existing schools all around the country, and constructing 30 new schools in Auckland and 31 across the rest of the country, among others.
One of the reasons for tightening school enrolment schemes is parents’ desire to send their children to certain schools. This puts pressure on high demand schools, particularly in Auckland where roughly 127,000 students attend a school within their zone; 38,000 attend a school out of their zone; and 58,000 attend a school that didn’t have an enrolment scheme.
Parents can have many reasons for preferring one school over another. Schools offer different programmes that may differently suit the individual talents and needs of their children. One could have a better rugby programme, while another has a better music programme.
For some parents, academic performance is the most important factor. When deciding which school to send their children to, parents often use NCEA league tables and decile ratings to infer the academic quality of a school.
Notwithstanding, The New Zealand Initiative’s research in Statistics New Zealand’s data lab shows that most observed differences in NCEA league tables come down to differences in the backgrounds of the students taught at different schools. This means there might be less reason to think that one school’s performance is a lot better than its neighbour’s. However, other differences can matter.
For this reason, the need to build more schools to meet population pressures under NEGP is an interesting opportunity to meet specific school demand and improve the quality of education across the entire system. In business good practices and products are replicated when there is demand – think of the hundreds of McDonalds, New Worlds and Warehouses all around the country. Good practices can similarly be replicated in education in New Zealand.
Why not invite successful schools to set up branch campuses to meet rising demand? The Initiative’s work in the data lab shows that while most schools are rather similar, once you separate out family background, there are some schools that do show stronger performance. High-performing schools facing strong enrolment pressure could grow, running some of the new schools that must be established and taking over others that are getting redeveloped.
There is a precedent for this kind of model. In the United Kingdom, under the Academies policy developed in 2002, high-performing schools were invited to take over schools that were having a harder time. The results from the 2002–09 Academies are promising. However, the results for the post-2010 Academies are still mixed.
Here in New Zealand, the satellite school system allows schools to set up satellite campuses in other locations; where students can receive specialist teaching from the base school while attending the host satellite school. In Taupō, the fullest school in the country, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whakarewa I Te Reo Ki Tuwharetoa school, has 191 enrolled students but 118 attend satellite schools nearby.
The NEGP offers a pathway to address education infrastructure for the future; it also presents an opportunity to improve the education outcomes developed in the very classrooms they are building. The NEGP should not forget that it isn’t classrooms, chairs and desks that make a school – it’s the lessons learned inside those classrooms that matter.
Joel Hernandez is a policy analyst at The New Zealand Initiative
Schools that scrap parent donations to get $150 per student from the Government will still be able to ask for donations for school camps and other items – as long as they were voluntary.
The Herald has obtained a consultation document outlining the proposed guidelines for the policy, which will apply to all decile 1 to 7 schools and was announced in Budget 2019 at a cost of $265.6 million over four years.
Many schools, as well as primary teachers’ union NZEI, have said that opting in to the scheme would see them worse off, and school boards will be torn over whether to turn down the extra Government cash.
Michael Williams, principal of decile 7 Pakuranga College, told a parliamentary select committee last month his school would be $300,000 out of pocket if he axed parent donations.
Under questioning from educators last week, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said schools that opted in to the scheme would still be able to ask for donations for school camps.
“The rules around the criteria for accepting the $150 haven’t yet been completed, we are in the process of developing that. But I can confirm that school camps will be exempt from that,” Hipkins said.
But the consultation document proposes that those schools could only ask for donations for camps that were voluntary.
“If the camp is optional, not part of curriculum delivery and held over the weekend, parents can be charged for the costs of the camp regardless of whether the board has opted in to the scheme,” the document says about examples of where donations could still be sought.
Boards that took up the Government’s offer could also still ask parents for donations for:
• Voluntarily purchasing goods and services such as uniforms or stationery items from the school.
• Photocopying costs for personal, non-curricular use.
• Costs of voluntary extra-curricular activities such as ski trips, or voluntary tuition such as weekend music lessons or sports activities.
• Lunches or canteen purchases.
Failure to follow the rules would lead to the Ministry of Education taking back its $150-per-student money, maybe in the form of cutting into the school’s future grants.
National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye said the document showed how complicated the policy was.
“The bill is under a truncated select committee timeline, and principals and boards were given less than a week to provide feedback on draft guidance for schools around the donations scheme.
“This is unreasonable given the complexities, definition issues and the impact on schools as to whether they choose to take up this offer.”
Submissions on the bill to enact the change closed on June 16, and submissions on the draft guidelines closed early this month.
Boards have until November 14 to take up the offer, and are expected to be paid on the first working day of January 2020, with funding based on the school’s July 1 2019 roll return.
Administrative slip-ups have forced three Auckland schools to rerun elections for their boards of trustees.
The reruns come on top of extensions of time that the Ministry of Education granted to at least 54 schools due to delays in posting out ballot papers for this year’s elections, which were due to close for most schools on June 7.
Wairau Intermediate School on Auckland’s North Shore says it will have to rerun its election because “several hundred” ballot papers, representing about half of the parents entitled to vote, were not sent out.
Board chairman Alan Curtis said the problem was “a slip-up between the returning officer and the mailing house where an address file was incorrectly labelled”.
“It was spotted fairly quickly, but too late for voters to be able to get their votes in,” he said.
“There will be no additional costs to the school.”
Bayfield School in Herne Bay says its election was halted “due to an error in the electoral roll”.
Northcote College principal Vicki Barrie said her board’s election was invalidated because one candidate who was elected, Kate Hazeldine, withdrew after voting papers were issued when she found that she was ineligible to stand for election as a parent representative.
“We will hold a new election on August 23. In the meantime the previous board [the board which held office before the June election] returns to office,” she said.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the ministry would cover the cost of the new elections.
“The boards of trustees elections at these three schools will be run again after it was found that in two cases some parents were left off the electoral roll and unable to vote and in the other, a candidate was ineligible,” she said.
She said last month that 54 schools had asked for an extension of time for the elections because of delays in distribution of ballot papers.
The recommended timetable for this year’s elections was to close nominations on May 24, mail out ballot papers by May 29 and close the voting on June 7 – a much tighter timetable than for local body elections, which allow eight weeks between nominations closing and the end of the election, including three weeks for voting.
Ponsonby Primary School and others reported that many ballot papers were not delivered until after the Queen’s Birthday holiday on June 3, leaving insufficient time for parents to read the candidate statements and post in their votes.
NZ Post chief marketing officer Bryan Dobson said NZ Post did not receive Ponsonby Primary School voting papers until May 30
“Our target service standard is for 90 per cent of mail to be delivered within three working days. Our current reporting shows that we are delivering over 93 per cent of mail within this standard,” he said.
“We will be working with the School Trustees Association to review the postal aspects of the school elections, to make sure any lessons learnt are captured for future elections.”
School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said three out of 2500 schools having to rerun their elections had to be seen “in the bigger scheme of things”.
“The bulk of our schools got through their re-elections,” she said. “We had some issues with NZ Post, and resolved them.”
She said the association had talked to the ministry about running future board elections online, but that would require a law change.
A taskforce led by former principal Bali Haque has proposed transferring all the legal powers of boards of trustees to regional education “hubs”. Its final report was delivered to Education Minister Chris Hipkins this month and final decisions are expected to be less radical than the initial report.
Nearly 150,000 students who have had school credits held back for years over unpaid NCEA fees have been handed over their grades.
The Government on Wednesday moved to award qualifications to former pupils, some who have owed fees since NCEA began in 2002, as part a Budget promise to scrap $76.70 NCEA fees altogether and wipe past debts.
“If they have done the work and achieved, to not have that officially recognised has been absolutely dreadful,” Deidre Shea, the principal of Auckland’s decile-three Onehunga High School, said.
“There has been a divide between students who have been able to pay for that and those who haven’t … For this to now be righted is a big move. It’s about equity.”
For about 60,000 of the learners, the held-back credits have meant the difference between getting an NCEA qualification – such as NCEA Level 1 – and not.
“It’s going to help the most disadvantaged young people in our communities who already have extra challenges,” Shea said.
“When I look back on it, I think it’s quite incredible that students had to pay for what was a national qualification.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said those with unpaid fees would now have their academic records backdated.
“It also means that employers will now be able to verify that their employee or potential employee has earned their NCEA qualification,” he said.
“These students have worked hard to earn these credits or qualifications, and it’s not right that they don’t get to use it because their families struggle to pay the fees.”
The Child Poverty Network, which has for years called for the fees to be scrapped, said the system had been “grossly unfair”.
“NCEA fees are such a cost barrier, they add to poverty stigmas when families can’t afford them, and we are really pleased the Government is working toward taking those barriers down,” spokeswoman Jeni Cartwright said.
The debt write-off will see 149,618 former pupils get additional credits. For 60,595 it will mean at least one new qualification is awarded.
It will see 24,545 Level 1 qualifications handed out, 26,832 at Level 2 and 32,743 at Level 3.
Childcare companies warn that they may have to raise fees to cover wage costs which have soared above $45 an hour for relief teachers in Auckland, as a desperate teacher shortage bites.
Four early childhood sector groups have asked for an urgent meeting with Education Minister Chris Hipkins to ask for extra money to cover their rising costs, and say that if they don’t get it they will have to raise fees for parents.
Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said centres were being forced to pay $45 to $49 an hour to get relief teachers – way over the top of the normal pay scale for early childhood teachers with degrees, which is $67,302 a year or $32 an hour.
Katy Brown of The Learning Centre in Ellerslie said last year that she was paying qualified teachers $24 to $28 an hour, and was being forced to pay more.
But centres are bracing for even bigger pay demands flowing on from talks this week over pay for kindergarten teachers. Their union, the NZ Educational Institute, is seeking an 11 per cent pay rise over three years to catch up with primary teachers’ pay increases that took effect from July 1.
“For parents, all they see at some point is that their costs have increased,” Reynolds warned.
“It’s very rarely by choice, it’s more by necessity.”
Unlike public schools and kindergartens, most childcare centres operate in a free market where the wages are set by supply and demand – and right now the shortage of supply of teachers means they can set their own terms.
“At the moment in Auckland, if you want to have a reliever, you are paying $45 to $49 an hour, and the reliever will come and say, ‘I’m not going to do any paperwork’,” Reynolds said.
“The paperwork will still have to be done, so someone else has to do it, but we are being pressured into paying those sorts of rates simply because there is a shortage.”
He said some centres were being forced to close at times when they couldn’t get enough qualified staff to maintain their required staffing ratios.
He declined to name those centres without their permission or even to say how many had been affected.
“It would be wrong for me to put a number to it, but it’s an increasing number,” he said.
“There are some services that are closing permanently. There are services being monitored by the Ministry of Education that are being told they are breaching the regulations, therefore their licence will be pulled.”
He said a recent survey of his members found that centres were taking an average of more than 100 days to fill each teaching vacancy.
He said early childhood education (ECE) funding was topped up after every pay increase for kindergarten teachers up to 2011, but funding was not lifted after two subsequent kindergarten pay rises of 4 per cent and one of 0.38 per cent.
An NZEI spokeswoman said kindergarten teachers had a unified pay scale with primary and secondary teachers before this month’s pay rises for school teachers, and were now seeking to keep up with their school colleagues.
“In terms of what that means for percentage increases, essentially it’s the same as what primary teachers got, an immediate bump to catch them up to the unified pay scale – lumpy but on average a 5 per cent increase across the steps, then two 3 per cent increases to the base scale in the years following that,” she said.
The school teachers’ pay claims were costed at $1.5 billion over four years, yet Reynolds said the Budget lifted early childhood funding by only 1.8 per cent from next January.
“That’s woefully insufficient to match a 17 to 23 per cent funding drop [per student hour] over the last 10 years.”
Hipkins acknowledged that there was “a clear tightening of teacher supply in the early learning sector, although the impact on individual services is not known to the Ministry of Education as most service operate independently”.
“I’ve recently met with representatives of the sector and have invited them to present me with a detailed breakdown of the key issues as a means of facilitating further talks,” he said.
“Overall, the Government wants a more planned approach to establishing new services, greater support and increased monitoring. We are working on a workforce strategy for education to build a strong, culturally competent education workforce that drives a world-leading, learner focused, education system for the future.
“More immediately, we’ve put ECE teachers on the skills shortage list and invested $135 million into attracting more teachers, which includes increased funding rates for ECE teacher training providers. “
School choice is set to tighten across Auckland as new housing developments force more schools to close their doors against out-of-zone families.
A National Education Growth Plan unveiled yesterday says enrolment schemes will be required in the next three years at 103 of the 140 Auckland state schools that still don’t have any zoning restrictions.
The new schemes, plus population pressure on the 277 state schools that already have zoning schemes, are likely to drastically reduce parents’ choice, forcing most to send their children to the nearest state school.
Zoning is already common in higher-income areas such as Ormiston and Mission Heights, where all schools have zoning schemes, and central Auckland, where 26 of the 27 state schools have zoning restrictions.
But more intensive housing planned in state housing areas is also expected to force zoning schemes in previously lightly zoned or unzoned lower-income areas such as Tāmaki, Northcote, Mt Roskill, Māngere, Ōtara and Manurewa.
Auckland Central MP and former Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the tightening would be “challenging to some communities”.
“It means basically nearly every school in Auckland will have an enrolment scheme,” she said.
The plan, unveiled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins, signals a need for 30 new schools in Auckland and 31 across the rest of the country to accommodate 100,000 extra students by 2030 – 60,000 of them in Auckland.
Most of the new schools will be in new suburban developments such as Drury, where four new primary schools and at least one new secondary school are planned.
But the plan also includes new “urban schools” at Takapuna, Manukau and in the Auckland central business district where a new co-educational state secondary school is also expected to be needed beyond 2030.
Young foreign students looking for somewhere to study are mostly giving New Zealand a miss, a new survey has found.
The global survey of 77,000 would-be international students by Melbourne-based QS Enrolment Solutions has found that the 5263 students enquiring about NZ universities were significantly older then average.
Only 25 per cent of those interested in New Zealand were under age 24, compared with 50 per cent of those enquiring about Australia.
Indian student Divya Kataria, the AUT Students’ Association’s international officer, says a major reason is that New Zealand charges undergraduates full-cost fees of about $33,000 a year but lets doctoral students study at the same price as domestic students – about $7000 a year.
“The two big factors are the fees and the cost of living in Auckland and the big Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne,” she said.
Kataria herself is only 22 and studied in Lithuania before coming to New Zealand. She said most continental European countries charged overseas students only about €3000, or about NZ$6000.
She then tried to get into an Italian polytechnic to study architecture but the entrance exam was in Italian, so she looked for an English-speaking country. She ended up doing construction engineering at AUT.
“I applied to NZ and Australian universities and chose AUT because of their reputation and their ranking,” she said.
“As international officer, most of the students I deal with are over 25. Some people are actually 30 or 35. They come for their second PhD or their second masters.”
The QS survey relied on people enquiring to study overseas being referred to the survey website by the institutions they enquired to. It was heavily weighted to Australian institutions, which referred 36,912 of the 77,000 students in the sample.
The Government has unveiled plans for 61 new schools by 2030, but has only announced funding for one new one so far.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins are at Hingaia Peninsula School south of Auckland today to unveil the first of a series of regional parts of a “national education growth plan”.
The plan shows 30 proposed new schools in Auckland and 31 outside Auckland by 2030, with initial funding of $1.2 billion out to June 2023 announced in the Budget.
But the only specific funding announced for Auckland and Northland today provides for:
• $20m for a new primary school in the Milldale development northwest of Silverdale, which is shown as opening with provision for 370 students in the early 2020s and adding space for a further 330 students later in the decade.
• $5m to provide for an extra 250 students at Hingaia Peninsula School.
• $155m for an extra 228 classrooms for 4700 students at 42 existing schools across Auckland.
• $20m for an extra 27 classrooms for 500 students at nine existing schools in Northland.
A further 24 special education satellite units, mainly at existing schools, are included in the numbers.
“The growth plans show that we need to provide for more than 60,000 new student places by 2030 in Auckland and Tai Tokerau,” Hipkins said.
“Of the $1.2 billion of funding for school property in the Wellbeing Budget, the investments announced today represent about $200m of that funding.”
Altogether, the plan expects to provide for an extra 100,000 students by 2030, including 60,000 in Auckland.
New schools are earmarked at:
• Warkworth North primary, 400 students.
• Warkworth South primary, 400 students.
• Orewa Northwest primary, already announced and due to open in 2021 with 420 students, adding 380 later.
• Milldale primary, 370 students plus a further 330 later.
• Wainui #2, another new primary in the Milldale area, 370 students.
• Wainui secondary, also in Milldale, 800 students.
• Albany North primary, 350 students plus 350 later.
• Takapuna Metro primary, possible land acquisition to be confirmed.
• Scott Point primary, Hobsonville, already announced, 650 students.
• Whenuapai #1 primary, 420 students plus 380 later.
• Whenuapai #2 primary, 420 students.
• Red Hills North primary, 350 students.
• Northwest secondary, 800 students.
• New Lynn new primary, 420 students plus 280 later.
• CBD primary, 400 students.
• Unitec campus primary, Mt Albert, 700 students.
• Epsom campus primary (current Auckland University site), 700 students.
• Tāmaki Park primary, 700 students.
• Flat Bush new primary, 350 students.
• New special school hub, to be confirmed.
• Ōtāhuhu/Māngere East primary, 370 students plus 330 later.
• Middlemore primary, 350 students.
• Māngere/Favona primary, 300 students plus 200 later.
• Manukau “possible new urban school”.
• Takanini new primary, possible land acquisition.