“ The trend is worrying ” – Leavers without a diploma increase


The number of adolescents leaving school without qualifications increased for the second year in a row in 2019, with boys and Maori being the most affected, according to figures from the Ministry of Education.

File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Twelve percent of last year’s school leavers did not have an NCEA qualification, up from 11 percent in 2018, which was the first year that a stat increase had been recorded.

The group represented 7,464 of the more than 61,000 young people who left school last year, and numbered several hundred more than the equivalent group in 2018.

The figures showed that almost half, 3689, were Pākehā and 3285 were Maori.

Considered by gender, more than half, 4,234, were boys.

In some schools, more than 30 percent of school leavers last year had no diploma.

Looked at by region, Gisborne had the highest rate of unqualified school leavers at 19 percent, followed by Northland and Manawatū at 15 percent each.

However, at the territorial authority level, the percentage of unqualified school leavers was 25% or more in Ōpōtiki, Waimate, Ruapehu, Kawerau and Manurewa.

Wellington had the lowest percentage of unqualified school leavers at 8%, followed by Nelson and Otago with 9%.

The results for Maori students showed a stark contrast between English and Maori language instruction, with no NCEA qualification for 22 percent of those leaving the English language and for 11 percent of those leaving the Maori language.

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A quarter of adolescents who left school in the first decile and a fifth of those who left decile two had no qualifications, as did 14% of boys and 22% of Maori.

A report on the numbers indicated that there was a lot of variation between schools.

“Some schools in deciles 1 and 2 have pass rates that exceed the rates of some schools in deciles 9 and 10,” the report said.

Data showed that more than 30 percent of students leaving some low-decile schools last year did not have an NCEA qualification, and in some high-decile schools the figure was around 15 percent.

High School Principals Association president Deidre Shea said the increase in unqualified school leavers was worrying.

“Certainly the trend is in the wrong direction, isn’t it? Looking at the data at the national level, the number of unqualified leavers in each of the [NCEA] the levels appear to be declining slightly. It is not a lot but it is enough that the trend is worrying, ”she said.

Shea wasn’t sure what was causing the problem, but said it could be linked to increased absenteeism rates.

“The ministry has been concerned for some time about the decrease in the number of students, or the proportion of students, who attend school regularly in recent years,” she said.

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“Obviously I don’t know, but I would say there may be a correlation there too – so maybe the students aren’t as engaged throughout their education journey.”

Shea said she expected the changes to the NCEA qualification would correct the problem by making it a more motivating qualification for teenagers.

Spotlight on Gisborne

The Gisborne region had the highest rate of unskilled leavers of any region at 19%.

Gisborne Boys’ High School principal Andrew Turner said one of the reasons for the figure was the ‘truckloading’ of job opportunities in the area.

“There are more jobs in this area. They can’t fill them with workers. So it’s a really unique situation.”

“I talk to people from work … they have a local industry here that says, ‘We’re going to take apprenticeships for untrained, unskilled people, as long as they’re reliable and show up, we’ll take them,’ because they don’t have enough workers, on the one hand it’s really cool, it’s really exciting.

“The negative side is what we are seeing is that more and more young people are reaching those 15, 16 – 16 is the legal school leaving age – they are 16 in the middle of their 11th grade., they don’t have NCEA 1 level, “whatever, I go to work, I can get $ 19.10 an hour, it’s a priority for the family, it’s more important” .

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Turner said the situation in Gisborne was in stark contrast to a place like Dunedin, where university and polytechnic students took up most of the unskilled jobs, leaving most of the city’s school leavers with little other choice. than staying in school and then enrolling in higher education.

He said Gisborne Boys High School had a great career team that helped students through a qualification path, but it was difficult to persuade some students to stay when they could find work.

Turner said another factor contributing to the numbers was a relatively high rate of fugacity.

Reasons for the ministry

The interim director of the Department of Education’s secondary-upper group, Richard D’Ath, said the reasons why young people left school before graduating varied, but were often linked to the labor market and employment opportunities.

“Since 2015, the labor market has been strong and offers opportunities for young people. This may have led some young people to leave school prematurely to enter the labor market, ”he said.

D’Ath said the Ministry and the Qualifications Authority were monitoring student progress this year, but appeared to perform at a similar level to last year once the impact of the bonus’ credits of learning recognition ”had been taken into account.



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