19 Jun 2012

Some Pakeha parents stereotyping Maori pupils - principals

6:04 am on 19 June 2012

Principals of two Northland schools say removing decile rankings will not address the real issue of Pakeha parents stereotyping Maori pupils.

Ministry of Education figures show the number of Pakeha children in deciles 1, 2 and 3 schools has nearly halved in the past 12 years.

The Principals' Federation wants the ranking system changed because it believes Pakeha parents are avoiding low decile schools, resulting in a divided society.

The head of decile 1 Kaikohe Intermediate says some Pakeha parents have inaccurate perceptions about the education standards at low decile schools.

Phil Gordon says eliminating deciles will not be enough to change those perceptions, as parents will still know which schools have lots of Maori pupils.

He warns if Pakeha children are sheltered from Maori children at school it could result in the two groups not mixing well in society.

Decile system will not change 'white flight'

The principal of another decile 1 school in the region says changing the ranking system will not stop Pakeha parents avoiding schools with lots of Maori pupils.

Kaikohe East School head Chicky Rudkin says Pakeha parents are more put off by the fact the school's role is made up of 98% Maori children than by its low decile.

She says many of those parents have incorrect negative perceptions about Maori due to things like the high number of Maori in jail or unemployed.

Ms Rudkin says chaning the system would not make a difference to the 'white flight' because parents would still be able to tell if a school had lots of Maori pupils.

But Ms Rudkin says it doesn't worry her if Pakeha pupils bypass her school, as they are the ones missing out on the great things happening there.

She says Kaikohe East School aims to make Maori children feel proud about their culture and has many Maori protocols in place.

Ms Rudkin says she wouldn't want a new school rating system that forced parents to send their children to schools which they didn't want them to attend.