The Education Review Office (ERO) has found that education for children and young people living in Oranga Tamariki residential care facilities is not good enough.
“While education is important for all tamariki and rangatahi, it is even more critical for students in residential care. These students are among the most at risk of poor outcomes later in life - and education can change this,” says Nicholas Pole, ERO Chief Executive and Chief Review Officer.
Over the last decade ERO has consistently found that the education these vulnerable students receive is too variable, dependent on which residence they are placed in. ERO’s new review has found that a quarter of sites are not providing students with quality education.
ERO also found that, across all the residences, students are too often studying subjects with limited pathways and many can’t continue to study the same subjects when they move out of residences back to their local school.
80% of these students are Maori and whilst there is a commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and have culturally responsive practice, currently practice is variable. Over half the sites were not performing well on culturally responsive practice.
“There is a committed workforce who work with these children and young people – and these students told us how much they liked learning and working with their teachers in residences,” says Mr Pole.
“Yet, commitment isn’t enough. Achieving good outcomes for students in care will require significant change.
“We know that teaching these students requires a specialist set of skills. Teachers in residence told us they need more support to improve their teaching practice and there needs to be more opportunities to share good practice across sites – something that isn’t supported in the current model.
“We need to have a clear picture of what good education in residences looks like, something that is currently lacking, and deliver this consistently across sites. We also need to ensure students have access to good support when they move out of residence, so they don’t lose the progress made with learning while in residence.”
ERO has made recommendations for changes that have the potential to significantly improve the quality of education and improve outcomes for these priority learners.
It will take coordinated and focused work across agencies and providers to take forward these recommendations and ensure positive change occurs in a system that has served these children and young people poorly for too long.