3.4.3 Engagement with schooling

The link between schooling performance and later criminality is particularly pronounced in the areas of student truancy, suspensions and expulsion. The following figures again indicate that Māori are unusually likely to feature in such statistics.

Figure 8: School absence by ethnicity (sample week 2004) 1

Figure 8: School absence by ethnicity (sample week 2004)

Truancy not only means students miss out on education but it also creates opportunities for unoccupied and unsupervised time, often with peers. Māori are more than twice as likely to be referred to truancy services as students from any other ethnic group. A consistent finding in the truancy surveys is that low-decile schools, which are most commonly located in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, have the highest truancy rates 2.

Stand-downs and suspensions are forms of temporary removal of students from school for disciplinary reasons. Stand-downs are time-limited, with right of return to school a given. Suspensions on the other hand may result in permanent exclusion from school, or return under special conditions. The figures below show that these measures are applied more frequently to Māori students.

Figure 9: Stand-down rates 2000-2005 by ethnic group (per 1,000 students)

Figure 9: Stand-down rates 2000-2005 by ethnic group (per 1,000 students)

Student Engagement 2005. Ministry of Education, www.educationcounts.edcentre.govt.nz

Figure 10: Suspension rates 2000-2005 by ethnic group (per 1,000 students)

Figure 10: Suspension rates 2000-2005 by ethnic group (per 1,000 students)

Student Engagement 2005, Ministry of Education, www.educationcounts.edcentre.govt.nz

Commonly reported reasons (from school staff) for stand-downs and suspensions of students are verbal abuse of teachers, refusal to follow instructions or requests, assaults on other students and, especially for suspensions, use of drugs.


1 Ministry of Education Research Division (2005) Attendance, absence and truancy in New Zealand schools in 2004.

2 Fergusson, Swain-Campbell & Horwood (2004), op.cit.