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School survey reveals culture gap

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Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says many teachers fail to appreciate the connection between culture and educational progress.

The commission surveyed almost 1700 children and young people including 360 Maori on their experiences in education, including whether they encountered racism in school.

Judge Becroft says some of the Maori respondents emphasised the importance of understanding their life outside school, their place within their whanau, and the importance of teachers pronouncing their names correctly.

Many reported there seemed to be no appropriate and meaningful ways to connect with their culture in mainstream English-medium schools, which was compounded by negative expectations of teachers and peers.

"We're not saying, as some teachers might think, teachers are racist. This is a faithful attempt to depict the voices of our tamariki and rangatahi Maori and it is their experience, they're experts in their own lives, and think it should be viewed postively in one sense, that here is an opportunity for change," he says.

Judge Becroft says the survey shows why the voices of children and young people should be included in the review that has just been launched into what changes should be made to the Tomorrow's Schools framework.

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