ERO report: Year 9 Plus

Media release

ERO report: Year 9 Plus

An Education Review Office report released today suggests New Zealand schools need to do more to support at-risk students as they transition into secondary school. The Education Review Office has just published findings on the first year of Year 9 Plus, a trial in the East Coast region that aims to improve educational outcomes for students.

 The transition to secondary school can be a period of significant risk for vulnerable learners. Secondary school environments are typically larger, and more socially and academically complex. Learners must quickly acquire skills to navigate in these environments if they are to be successful.  Those learners who struggle in this transition tend to disengage from their learning early either through increases in absenteeism or being stood down from school as a consequence of challenging behaviour. The trial focused on a group of students identified in Year 8 who were at risk of not transitioning well to secondary school in 2016.

The Ministry of Education employed a champion for each student in the trial; someone of standing in the community, whose role was to work with the students, their whānau and their school to keep the students engaged in learning and achieving success.

The champions liaised with community organisations and government agencies to make sure the students and their whānau had access to any wrap-around support needed. The intent is that the champions will support their students through their secondary school education, building on a strong early foundation in Year 9.

ERO found that the schools where Year 9 Plus worked best were the ones where the school leaders were well-informed, had developed sound working protocols with the champions, and had high levels of relational trust.

Students generally experienced smooth transitions when the schools made good use of information about the student from the contributing primary or intermediate school.

Chief Review Officer, Nicholas Pole commented: “Although the trial is restricted to schools in the East Coast region, ERO’s findings have wider implications in that all schools need to be thinking about how to successfully support vulnerable learners in their transition into secondary school.

“What this trial is showing us is that schools need to know who their at-risk children and their families are, so they can build relationships to support each child’s learning and wellbeing. They need explicit plans for these learners and a significant adult in their lives who is able to bridge between home and school life. Schools also need to ensure that there is collective ownership for the learner throughout the school setting and that their programmes are tailored to the learner’s interests, abilities and aspirations.

“The students in the trial were some of our most vulnerable and they need to be supported in the best way possible so they can do well,” Mr Pole said.

One of the students summed up their feelings about the trial, telling ERO to advise both schools and champions that: “We might be a pain, but do not give up on us.”

ERO will continue to monitor this important trial and provide feedback to the Ministry of Education on potential enhancements.

The full ERO report is available here:

 ERO Report: Year 9 Plus

For further information contact ERO Communications Manager, Amanda Forsey: 021 459 472