Cover photo of Social Policy Journal

Making the System Work for the At-Risk Student

Susan Baragwanath

The New Zealand labour market now requires that students have 13 years of basic formal education and achieve some qualifications along the way. For 80% of our secondary school student population this is what happens; for the other 20% (about 50,000 students in any one year) it does not.

This paper explores one way of addressing the educational losses of these students. It is based on my personal experience as the founder and Teacher-in-Charge at He Huarahi Tamariki ? School for Teenage Parents and a Chance for Children, a second-chance educational institution for young mothers and fathers who did not finish their schooling. It was set up as a “class” of Porirua College.

The paper looks at how to overcome the kinds of problems encountered, and discusses proposals for recognition and encouragement of different kinds of schools, legislative change to provide for “legitimate discontinuity”, and dissolving the divisions between education and crime prevention as part of the aim of “breaking the cycle”.

The long-term social costs of the at-risk 20% coming to working age unskilled and uneducated are enormous. Viewed in these terms, the need for change is overwhelming and its net cost insignificant.

Cover photo of Social Policy Journal


Social Policy Journal of New Zealand: Issue 11

Making the System Work for the At-Risk Student

Dec 1998

Comment by the Ministry of Youth Affairs on "Making the System Work for the At-Risk Student"

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