High School Issues

The PPTA is holding their annual conference this week. PPTA means Post-Primary Teachers’ Association and it is the union for high school teachers. Discussion today was about the Labour government’s plan, called ‘Schools Plus’, for keeping all young people in school or in some form of training at school until they reach the age of 18. Helen Clark gave a speech to the conference and said there would be extra teachers and extra money so that this policy will work.

At the moment, school is compulsory from age 6 to 16. About 30,000 students, that is about 25% of all students, leave school before they are 17. For Maori students, the percentage is 42%. 10,000 of those early leavers do not have a job and are not in any kind of education or training.

Helen Clark said this policy would cost $170 million and already the government has announced $40 million to make a start. There will be apprentice jobs for young people to learn trades such as car mechanic, plumber, builder or electrician. Students will do this training while at school or they will spend some time both working at a job and studying at school. This way, the school will have control over students’ attendance, behaviour and progress. However, this policy may not help students who hate school.

The National Party also has a policy for young people who leave school early and do not have a job. It is called ‘Youth Guarantee’ and we will learn more about this after October 12th when the National Party tells us the details of their policies.