Children and young people spoke about a wide range of factors that keep them engaged with school, such as feeling that their teachers know and respect them, understand the way they learn, emphasise their strengths and share high hopes for their future. The support of friends and whānau is also important. When this is absent, it is easier for children and young people to disengage.
For some children and young people school can appear irrelevant and out of touch when the uncomfortable realities they are dealing with are trivialised or ignored. For these children and young people, education still matters to them, and still offers the promise of a better future, but it can sometimes feel as if that promise is being withheld.
“Probably to have a better understanding of students. Especially since everyone comes from all walks of life. And I guess to change up the way the teachers format the learning? So it isn't just one way, but like make it more interactive so everyone feels included. Probably try be fair to every student, not only the ones that exceed academically or in sports. And yeh, just be nice...” (Secondary school student, Pacific People)
“Focussing more on the problems in the world and what we can do to help. I think it would be good if we learned to be more aware about equality and whats good for our planet.”(Primary school student, Canadian)
“I was the class clown and the teacher would get annoyed because I was distracting but I felt they didn’t give me attention or support me...this touched my heart. I got kicked out of class, then I had gaps and I felt lost. Their attitude was to go catch up on your own.” (Student in alternative education, Tongan/New Zealander/ Samoan/British).