Child and youth voice research findings

Learning in residential care: They knew I wanted to learn

AUTHOR: Education Review Office

This 2021 evaluation looks at education provision for students who were placed in residential care by Oranga Tamariki, and includes interviews and surveys of students. The evaluation also draws on documentation, surveys and interviews with teachers and staff principals and providers, as well as Ministry social workers and officials.

Students were asked about the best and worst things about learning in care.  Key findings included:

  • Students were positive about their learning. They regularly identified their learning outcomes as ‘the best thing about learning here’.
  • The pass rates of NZQA credits attempted is high when in residence
  • However, the credits students achieve in residential care tend to have more limited pathways, and students can’t always finish their qualifications when they return to school
  • Students who talked about their wellbeing were mainly positive, although a few found the environment challenging
  • Māori students are less positive about their learning compared with non-Māori students
  • Half of the students interviewed talked positively about their transition into this aspect of residential care, describing it as a positive, welcoming experience.
  • Students spoke positively about having individualised programmes
  • However some highlighted difficulties with the quantity or level of challenge in the work they were given, being both too hard/ too easy and too much/not enough.
  • Students who spoke positively about the learning environment praised the high teacher-student ratio, the small size of the school and the kind and supportive environment
  • Students were hopeful about their transition, while in residence. They valued the practical and life skills gained, and activities that encouraged initial thinking about career choices.
  • Many students felt their whanau didn't know about their learning, particularly Māori students

Read the full report

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