Wellington, July 13, 2021
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.
ERO Chief Executive and Chief Review Officer said that 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. 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. ERO’s new review has found that a quarter of sites are not providing students with quality education,” he said.
ERO also found that, across all the residences, students are too often studying subjects with limited pathways and many cannot continue to study the same subjects when they move out of residences back to their local school.
About 80% of these students are Maori and whilst there is a commitment to improving outcomes for Maori and have culturally responsive practice, current 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.
Yet, commitment is not 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 need to be more opportunities to share good practice across sites – something that is not supported in the current model,” Mr Pole said.
He said that it is imperative 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 need to ensure students have access to good support when they move out of residence so that they do not lose the progress made with learning while in residence,” he said.
Recommendations to change
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.
About Education Review Office
ERO is responsible for reviewing and reporting on the performance of early learning services, Kura and schools. As part of this role, ERO looks at how the education system supports students’ outcomes – in this case, we are looking at education for students in Oranga Tamariki residences. Students are placed in residential care when they are at risk of harm from others, or to themselves, or others within the community.
There are 700-800 students in residential care each year, in eight sites run by three providers. These students are mostly male and 80% are Maori.
ERO’s expert team visited the eight residential sites. The experts said that steps should be taken to improve the quality of the students’ education while in residence; to grow expertise and reduce variability; re-examine how education is provided and develop new options; to ensure that students have access to high-quality education when they move out of the residence.
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