Children and young people talked about the range of significant relationships that exist in their worlds and how these relationships either enable them to achieve or prevent them from achieving. They talked about their peer relationships, their relationships with their teachers, with their learning community, and the importance of the relationship between their learning community and their whānau or family. Many children and young people said that they can’t begin learning unless they have a trusting relationship with their teacher.
Although not specifically asked about, bullying was commonly raised as something that children and young people would change about school. Physical elements of the school environment – such as the uniform or the cleanliness of the bathrooms were highlighted by young people as having a significant impact on their experience. Young people want to be accepted, and allowed the respect to define their own identity.
“I'd make sure everyone had a friend to be with throughout the day because being alone makes you sad sometimes”(Secondary school student, NZ European)
“Getting my parents involved with my learning and helping me at school” (Primary school student, NZ European)
“Good teachers, teachers who are helpful, they make the difference between me achieving and failing.” (Student in alternative education, Māori)
“Clean working student bathrooms - hand dryers should work, toilets should flush, we should have toilet paper, there should be soap, the doors should lock, sanitary bins should not be over flowing.” (Secondary school student, NZ European)