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To: House of Representatives

End school streaming - let all our tamariki thrive

We call on the Government to direct all schools—primary and secondary, and early childhood centres—to end the practice of streaming. If Canada can do it, so can we.

Why is this important?

As a nation we pride ourselves on being fair. We want to believe that no matter where you are born or into what circumstances, we all have an equal opportunity to achieve our potential. Fairness, getting a ‘fair go’, is a key New Zealand value.

But sometimes, as a nation and as educators, we let ourselves down. We have all seen the data that shows such a huge disparity in our education system between Māori and Pākehā. Decade after decade, in both high and low decile schools, there has been and still is, a significant disparity.

One of the reasons for this disparity is streaming. Streaming is a systemic barrier to Māori success that operates at every level in our schools, particularly in mathematics and science.

At primary school it is often called in-class grouping. From earliest days, students know if they are in the top or bottom group for reading or mathematics. The top groups get more challenging work and the expectations are higher. At secondary school, it is often known as banding. There is the extension class, a middle band, and the foundation class, sometimes referred to by students as the ‘cabbage class’.

“For us, we felt like people already thought we were dumb.” Māori student

For Māori, streaming is especially damning. Stereotyping, deficit thinking, and racism all play a role that leads to extension classes being predominantly European, and foundation classes largely Māori and Pasifika. This leads to further stereotyping and to the risk of Māori and Pasifika students internalising these stereotypes.

“It definitely does take its toll on your mental well-being.” Māori student

Streaming also acts as a gatekeeper. Many of those students who have been labelled by teachers as low ability, do not or cannot enter full NCEA courses. Career choices are significantly narrowed to low skill, low paid, and high risk jobs and employment.

“Streaming is one of the most destructive things in our education system” Professor Bill Barton

This is why we are saying 'stop streaming our tamariki'.

The solution is for the government, schools and communities to build an equitable education system that enables all rangatahi to be inspired by their future, confident in their culture, thriving in their work and empowered to succeed.

One important way to help achieve that is for the government to end the practice of streaming in schools and ensure cultural competency for all teachers.

Horowhenua College ended streaming in 2017 and NCEA results for Māori and Pasifika students improved.

This is a movement led by Tokona Te Raki - The Maori Futures Collective Add your name today to join us in calling on the government to end streaming in schools and stand up for our tamariki.

Read the report: End streaming in Aotearoa, 2021:

He Awa Ara Rau - A journey of many paths, 2019

Unconscious bias and education: A comparative study of Māori and African American students, 2016

Reasons for signing

  • I can't believe this is still happening! As a pakeha female with western education, I was also negatively impacted by streaming back in the '90s. I can only imagine how much worse this is for Maori, this outdated and stupid practice needs to go
  • Concerned for all the children to have a successful education, Its important for all children to be treated the same, whether your clever, or half clever ,or not clever at all, hence the reason WHY? a lot of children give up ,dont want to go to school to learn, because their not good enough,or clever enough .
  • Treat our rangatahi equally, fairly and empower them in our education system! Long overdue!


2021-05-03 14:33:33 +1200

1,000 signatures reached

2021-04-13 20:32:18 +1200

500 signatures reached

2021-04-07 21:18:10 +1200

100 signatures reached

2021-04-07 13:03:50 +1200

50 signatures reached

2021-04-07 10:19:51 +1200

25 signatures reached

2021-03-31 08:04:29 +1300

10 signatures reached