End of academic streaming in sight
Annual Conference decided to advocate for the abolition of streaming in secondary schools by the end of 2030
When Daniel Hāpuka’s son was in his last year of high school in 2015, he was told he was not a suitable candidate for NCEA Level 3 Maths and Science, despite having passed Levels 1 and 2. “My wife and I kept fighting for this young Māori lad who was ours and we ended up sending him to another school – and he passed. Then he got his Geography and Geology degree within the three year time span and is now a geotech engineer making more than his mum and dad at the age of 25.”
Daniel, an HOD Reo Māori and member of PPTA Te Wehengarua Te Huarahi Māori Motuhake, spoke at Annual Conference about the effects of streaming on three generations of his whānau.
Forced to leave high school
“My father was born in 1944. He went to two high schools and the teachers and the schools were so fiercely opposed to Māori doing academic subjects from fifth form (Year 11) onwards that Dad was actually required to leave because he didn’t want to do any of the things that were offered. He was forced to go out and look for a job and employers expected School Certificate as a baseline so he went into forestry for a little bit and then he went into the army.
“When I started high school in 1990 I was part of the first bilingual unit ever to be established in the South Island with Tihi Puanaki and Willie Puanaki and we had amazing teachers. But if we got marks that were too high we would get questioned. In Year 10 we did PATs reading comprehension and I got the second highest mark across the Year 10 cohort and I got asked by my teacher whether I’d seen the forms beforehand and I said no. Of course he believed me and he backed me but the next day I ended up in the principal’s office - because a kid learning Te Reo Māori in the immersion unit from Aranui with a single mother who’s Māori shouldn’t be getting these marks. He didn’t believe me. I got so upset I had to go home.
“This is three generations of what it’s like to be Māori within a system of systemic racism. And I don’t want it happening for a fourth generation – I don’t want to look at my grandchildren and say, ‘no moko you’re not dumb, we just have to fight for you’.”
Working together to destream schools
The historic and present harm caused to rangatahi Māori through the practice of streaming was formally acknowedged by PPTA Te Wehengarua Annual Conference. Conference decided to advocate for the removal of streaming in New Zealand secondary schools by 2030 and advocate for increased resourcing to enable schools to do this.
PPTA will work with Tokona Te Raki, the Minstry of Education and other organisations who are undertaking the mahi to destream Aotearoa New Zealand schools.
Daniel says the move away from streaming will require a significant education process for both parents and teachers. “No-one knows what an unstreamed system looks like. However, differentiated teaching in an unstreamed classroom is probably better than boring, run of the mill, open your book, open your computer, type it out because it’s at a higher level kind of thing. Proper interactive teaching for students works much much better than a copy and paste exercise.
“We should mimic society and let rangatahi actuallly choose what they want to do in terms of options and the way they prefer learning rather than getting stuck in this little box that they’re expected to stay in.”