Ending
Streaming
in Aotearoa

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Streaming pānui

We all want an education system in Aotearoa where our young people are thriving in our schools and are inspired by their futures.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many of our rangatahi. From the very first day our tamariki and mokopuna walk through the school door, they begin the long journey of being labelled: You can! You can’t! At primary school, children are put into groups based on perceived abilities in reading or mathematics for example. The top groups get more challenging work, more teacher time, and higher expectations. The bottom groups get the opposite. In secondary school there is the top class and the bottom class.

This system is known as streaming. Over 90% of NZ schools have this system. All the research shows that it is bad for everybody, but it is especially bad for Māori and Pasifika students. Teacher bias and stereotypes lead to situations where the top classes are predominantly white, and the bottom (cabbage) classes are largely brown. For many Māori and Pasifika students, streaming acts as a gatekeeper, forcing them into low paid, low skilled jobs. We all pay a price for this.

21 year-old Harmony is one of many young Māori and Pasifika youth who have been casualties of this discriminatory practice. In Year 9 Harmony was placed in the ‘cab classes’. By Year 10 she had proved she was a top class student but by then the damage had been done. She wants streaming in schools stopped so that future generations are not subjected to the ongoing mental health issues that continue to impact her wellbeing.

There are an increasing number of schools that have decided to stop streaming and have chosen a better way of teaching. In these schools, academic achievement has risen, especially for Māori and Pasifika students, and there have been many other benefits. It works!!

The Government and the Ministry of Education also acknowledge that streaming ‘does more harm than good’ and that ‘it’s wrong, it’s unfair’ but they are leaving it up to each school to choose if they want to keep streaming or try a better way of teaching. That’s not good enough – it condemns many students today to a future that is less than what they deserve.

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