Latest Ministry of Education figures, released under the Official Information Act, reveal the number of school students suspended increased by 25.4% – from 2,618 students in 2015 to 3,283 in 2019, with the current school year’s data still being collated.
“Not only are suspensions negatively affecting over 3,000 New Zealand families, but their impact on other school students is profound. It’s an alarming level of disruption and an unacceptable cost on wider student achievement,” says Jamie Beaton, founder of Crimson Global Academy and CEO of Crimson Education.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Cabinet now need to urgently investigate how schools can improve the learning environment and achievement opportunities for most students who want to do well. I would argue, the time is ripe for greater access to online schooling, something Covid-19 has shown can actually work better for many,” he says.
In its official release of the numbers, the Ministry notes that a suspension is the formal removal of a student from a state or state-integrated school on a temporary basis until the school board of trustees decides the final outcome: Lifting or extending the suspension, or excluding or expelling the student.
The number of students suspended in Waikato schools increased by a staggering 29% when comparing just the last two full years of Ministry records – from 346 in 2018 to 447 in 2019. In Auckland, suspensions rose by 10% – from 767 in 2018 to 844 in 2019.
Mr Beaton says growing behavioural issues in schools has been a contributing factor to more students and parents investigating and engaging online education providers, including Crimson Global Academy which opened earlier this year as New Zealand’s first registered online high school.
“It’s easy to dismiss the thousands of suspensions in schools every year as something only involving bad kids. However, this has a ripple effect right through any school, impacting the high achievers and academically ambitious as well. When everyone’s focus is knocked, the best and brightest students often take their foot off the pedal too,” he says.
The education entrepreneur believes by 2030 online learning will make up about 50% of a secondary school student’s education time. He says many students are discovering that part-time online study, in addition to their current school, is a good way to accelerate and get ahead.
“In-person learning will always play a critical role in education, as will ‘bricks and mortar’ schools particularly when you consider the need for activities like sport, art, and music. However, physical schools come with incredible distractions, and often big classrooms. These are things you can avoid with online schooling when students are sitting quietly at home. My guess is we will see a blend of both in the coming years, but given the dominance of our state schools, a lot will depend on the Government’s view on the future of education.”
He says the Labour Government has done well in recent years ramping up the capital expenditure programme to improve New Zealand’s school campuses. This term the focus must be on the students themselves and improving their opportunities and ability to learn.
“Covid-19 has already accelerated schools’ digital enablement. When you consider this alongside rising behavioural issues, now is the time for students, teachers, and parents to have more choice around what learning environment best serves them,” says Jamie Beaton.
Crimson Global Academy (CGA) opened its virtual doors in April 2020. The New Zealand-based online high school has 140 students enrolled from 21 countries.
CGA students benefit from world-class teaching talent, small classes, and learning with two international curricula recognised by the world’s most competitive universities. Executive principal is former long-serving Auckland Grammar headmaster John Morris, while former Prime Minister Sir John Key is an adviser to the new online school.
For further information, please contact Jamie Beaton on (021) 222-0171