Boys doing better in all-boys' schools

JO MOIR
Last updated 12:13 17/06/2014

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Boys in single-sex schools are performing better than those in co-educational schools according to research released today.

NCEA data from 2010 to 2012 shows boys in state and state-integrated all-boys' schools are performing higher in NCEA level 2 assessments, university entrance and scholarship exams.

The percentage of school boys leaving single sex schools without qualifications is much lower than in co-ed schools.

For boys' schools the median university entrance attainment was 42 per cent, the median for NCEA level 2 was 83 per cent and only 8 per cent of school leavers left without a qualification.

This is compared with 23 per cent attaining university entrance, 69 per cent achieving NCEA level 2 and 17 per cent leaving school without a qualification in co-ed schools.

Maori and Pasifika students have been identified by the Minister of Education as priority learners and the research shows they were more likely to gain qualifications in boys' schools.

The report conducted by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research showed in 2012 that 28 per cent of boys leaving school came from 43 boys' schools.

All of the assessment data was broken down by decile to reflect the fact that 32 per cent of boys' schools are decile 9 or 10 compared with 9 per cent of co-ed schools.

In 2012 24.8 per cent of Maori students in decile 1-4 boys' schools left with no qualifications compared to 34 per cent in co-ed schools.

In the same decile band 15.9 per cent of Pasifika students left boys' schools without any qualifications while 29.6 per cent left co-ed schools.

For deciles 9 and 10 schools 8.6 per cent of Maori students and 12.5 per cent of Pasifika students received no qualifications at boys' schools while 15.7 per cent of Maori and 17.6 per cent of Pasifika students left co-ed schools without anything.

Decile 1 De La Salle College, decile 6 Rongotai College, decile 8 Sacred Heart College and decile 10 Hutt International Boys' School (HIBS) were identified in the report as high achieving boys' schools and NZCER chief researcher Cathy Wylie conducted interviews with the leaders of each of those schools.

"What was really interesting was how the high-performing schools stressed the importance of a student-centred approach, offering co-curricular activities alongside academic programmes for holistic development, and developing self-managing students who set high goals for themselves.''

The importance of the first year at the school and cross-year groupings where senior students could demonstrate leadership skills were common themes in all four schools.

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Wylie said all the schools had halls big enough to have whole-school assemblies as well as year-level groupings and the assemblies were used to recognise and celebrate school achievement, with an emphasis on showing younger students what was possible.

Rongotai College in Wellington uses the first whole-school assembly to name prefects and recognise NCEA achievement.

In a sport-focussed school there are now more academic honours awarded than sporting ones, Wylie said.

The provision of co-curricular activities, particularly kapa haka and polyfest in schools with a large number of Maori and Pasifika students showed students were more engaged.

Wylie said the threat of suspension or exclusion from the school and the impact that would have on their participation in co-curricular activities was a strong deterrent for that kind of behaviour.

HIBS had adopted a goal setting process for every student in relation to academic achievement but had extended it to also include contribution to their school house, sporting, cultural and service goals.

"The goals are likely to include getting merit or endorsement. In week six of the year there is a quick check of these goals in relation to the internal assessment happening that week and a teacher-parent-student meeting afterwards to review progress towards the goals and supports at home...''

- The Dominion Post

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