Report veils junior school violence

The Press 06 August 2008

A Ministry of Education report trumpeting a fall in school suspensions has overlooked a 37 per cent surge in primary school disciplinary actions. The ministry’s student engagement report last month highlighted a 25 per cent drop in the number of secondary school students suspended since 2000, an eight-year low. However, the primary school figures were buried in a graph with no raw numbers and no commentary. In fact, the number of primary school children stood down and suspended has grown from 4800 in 2000 to 6595 last year. In 2007, 945 primary school students were suspended and 5650 stood down 28 per cent of the total number of students at all levels stood down in that year. Educators say those numbers reflect an ongoing trend for increasingly violent misbehaviour by children as young as five.

Minister of Education Chris Carter released the ministry report heralding a “concerted effort by schools supported by the ministry”. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who pursued the ministry over the data, said he could not believe the report did not even touch on a nationwide problem. “We need to be asking ourselves some pretty tough questions about why almost 1000 kids are being chucked out of primary schools for behaviour that is just so bad that schools have got to the point where they won’t even work with it,” McCoskrie said.