John Paul College to phase out class streaming in 2022

Class streaming at John Paul College in Rotorua will be phased out from next year, and the school’s principal is encouraging other schools to investigate this option. 

      Patrick Walsh

In a school newsletter sent out in late October, John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh advised parents that the Board of Trustees had decided to phase out streaming from 2022. 

“This decision was made after a full examination of international and national research on the subject,” Mr Walsh said. 

“The college is entirely confident that this decision is in the best interests of all akonga (students), and will have zero impact on our consistently outstanding academic results.” 

An article in the Rotorua Daily Post noted that the college already has a nearly 100 per cent NCEA pass rate across all year levels. The change reportedly only impacts students in years 8-10. All other year levels have “mixed ability” classes. 

Mr Walsh reportedly said that there was no “strong evidence” that streaming benefitted any students – including top academic performers. 

“The research is however unequivocal that streaming can have significant and adverse impacts on learners, including low self-esteem, narrow educational pathways, unhealthy competition and lost lifetime opportunities,” he told the Rotorua Daily Post. 

Negative impacts of streaming were “amplified” and “long-lasting” for Māori and Pasifika learners, the newspaper reported him saying. 

“This is inconsistent with our Catholic worldview and commitment to being culturally inclusive,” the principal reportedly said. 

The newspaper also reported that Mr Walsh encouraged other schools to review the research and consult their communities about class streaming. 

The school newsletter message noted that there had been a parent consultation process before the decision was made by the board. Some 80 per cent of parents are in favour of the move, the newsletter stated. 

“We have also listened carefully to the voices of concern through the parent consultation process . . . .” 

Mr Walsh gave an assurance that the academic progress of every student at the college will continue to be vigorously assessed, monitored and reported on. 

Existing student enrichment activities will continue, and more enrichment activities will be offered in years 7-10 for strongly academic children and gifted and talented students. 

“The most able students in year 10 will be invited to complete some NCEA standards a year early, and be given mentoring as they move through the senior school in order to fulfil their academic potential.” 

Concerns could be referred to the deputy principal who “will have specific responsibility for these students and programmes”. 


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Michael Otto

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