21 Jul 2015

More Māori at high decile schools

7:16 am on 21 July 2015

A study of inequality in education has found the percentage of Māori children attending higher decile schools has increased as the socio-economic status of Māori has improved.

The independent study by Pūkeko Research showed changes in student numbers in school deciles between 1996 and 2013.

Graph showing Māori tamariki attending higher decile schools

Graph showing Māori tamariki attending higher decile schools Photo: Pukeko Research

It found the percentage of Māori students attending decile six to 10 schools has gone up from 21 to 34 percent during that time.

Research leader Liz Gordon said the shift reflected real social and economic advancement by Māori over the past two decades

"There are more middle class Māori now holding higher positions, more high income Māori, and that's been a change across the generations which is now being reflected within changing patterns within the schooling system.

"It's good news for Māori."

The research also showed only a quarter of Pākehā children were now attending decile one to five schools compared to 39 percent in 1996.

Ms Gordon said the massive loss of Pākehā children is causing resourcing problems for lower decile schools.

"They have been losing many people through white flight and when you get smaller you lose teachers.

"If you lose 30 kids you lose a teacher, and if you lose 30 kids you're still having to heat the same number of classrooms.

"All of the basic costs stay much the same but you get the income from 30 less children."

She said there was also a worry that the high level of educational divisions would lead to social conflict over time.

Ms Gordon said the movement of Māori into high decile schools could signal the start of a change away from segregation that will open up opportunities for a more bicultural society.

"But these kids are still the trailblazers - remember 50 percent of those in decile one schools are still Māori down the bottom, and they virtually don't see a Pākehā face."

Pākehā now make up just 0.5 percent of decile one students.

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