Labour MP and former education minister Trevor Mallard has suggested that the school system might be spending too effort on working with the bottom fifth of students at the expense of “the most talented kids”.
Giving a lecture in Wellington on Tuesday this week, Mallard noted efforts to make sure the school system responds better to – and is shaped by the needs of – Maori and Pasifika students.
But, he added: “I’m not certain that working with the bottom fifth, who are disproportionately Maori and Pasifika, is as important as working with the top fifth of Maori and Pasifika to make sure they achieve their potential.
“One of the anxieties I have is that at the end of my time [as education minister], and since, we have had a disproportionate focus on the bottom end, and we are missing out on ensuring some of the most talented kids, Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha, are achieving their potential. We are losing just about as much with them not achieving their potential [as we do at the bottom].”