Twelve young people selected for Youth Advisory Group

Twelve young New Zealanders, aged 14-18 years, have been selected to take part in the Ministerial Youth Advisory Group, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

The Youth Advisory Group is being set up to enable young people to have their say and have more influence on the education system and issues that affect them.

“I am looking forward to working with this inspiring group of young people, hearing about their experiences of our education system, and how they think we can improve it,” says Minister Hipkins.

“I want our young people to have a say in the way our education system works and the Youth Advisory Group provides an exciting opportunity for young New Zealanders to get involved in the decision-making.” 

The 2018 Youth Advisory Group members are:

  • Shaneel Lal, Otahuhu College, South Auckland
  • Bevan Xiao, Long Bay College, Auckland
  • Abby McRoberts, Aotea College, Porirua
  • Liam McLeavey, Waiopehu College, Levin
  • Okirano Tilaia, Cashmere High School, Christchurch
  • Geniqua Samupo, Avondale College, West Auckland
  • Brodie Cross, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu | Correspondence School, (Christchurch)
  • Nathan Farr, Kings’ High School, Dunedin
  • Hadassah Wharawhara, Te Kāpehu Whetū partnership school, Kerikeri
  • Costa Blackman, Tolaga Bay Area School, Tolaga Bay
  • Kate Morris, Darfield High School, Darfield
  • Watene Campbell, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna, Wellington

“I expect this diverse group of young people will bring fresh perspectives and valuable insights about education – they will also make sure that we are aware of the most important issues they are facing,” says Minister Hipkins.

“The youth advisory group will decide what they want to talk about at each meeting. I imagine topics include things like student wellbeing, mental health, and preparing for careers.”

Insights from this group will be shared with the Ministry of Education and other education sector agencies.

An online youth forum will include more than 150 young people who will discuss and test insights gathered from the advisory group, to ensure a wide range of viewpoints on selected education topics.

The group’s first meeting will be held in late February 2018. 

Questions and Answers

Q: Why is it important to have a Youth Advisory Group on education?

A: Education shapes New Zealand and we often don't hear enough from those who we deliver education to. As the Minister of Education I feel it important that I do hear directly from young people about their experiences of education, as they use the system. I expect they will bring fresh perspectives and insights about the most important issues facing them today, with a particular focus on education.

Q: What will your involvement in the 2018 Education Youth Advisory Group meetings or related events?

A: My involvement will be:

  • Attending the Orientation and each other meeting of the Youth Advisory Group. Where I can't attend, I will send them a video message or Skype in to the meeting.
  • Where time allows, joining in some live panel discussions with the forum.
  • Receiving a report on the key insights after each meeting from the Ministry of Education.

Q: How did you select the members of the Youth Advisory Group?

A: Applications closed on 3 September 2017.  Ministry officials selected a short-list of registrants for me to consider. I approved the final selection of the Youth Advisory Group.

To ensure a wide range of young voices are canvassed we are setting up an online platform, those who register their interest can opt into the Online Youth Forum (we have more than 150 members so far).  Registrations of interest will remain open, so I encourage all those that would like to, to apply.

Q: How were the members of the Online Youth Forum selected?

A: Everyone who completed the registration of interest to participate in the Online Youth Forum and met the criteria, were invited to be part of the Forum.

Q: What criteria did you use to select members (what skills/qualities were looked for)?

A: The short list of the Group was determined by three things:

  • Their biography or video clip identifying why they would like to be part of the Group. This will include how well they communicate and the life and educational experiences they bring with them,
  • The character reference, and
  • Diversity of the entire Group.

Q: Why 14 to 18 year olds?

A: The establishment of a Youth Advisory Group and Online Youth Forum offers a fresh opportunity for our young people, 14-18 year olds, to provide their perspectives and insights about some of the most important education issues facing them today.

These young people are in the later stages of their learning journey through New Zealand's compulsory education system. This age group will be able to reflect back on their own experiences of Primary and Intermediate school education, their current experience in Secondary, but also be able to look forward and think about their own learning pathways and think about what might help them to meet their goals and aspirations.

At a later stage we may use focus groups or other mechanisms to gain the perspectives of younger children, as well as those who have left the compulsory education system, through to further education, employment and beyond.

Q: How long can someone be in the Youth Advisory Group?

A: The tenure of the membership will initially be one year and will be reviewed at the end of the first year.

Q: How will the Youth Advisory Group be resourced?

A: The Ministry of Education has agreed to provide all resourcing to support the activities as the secretariat of the panel. This will include:

• providing expertise support,

• covering the members’ travel cost, catering and accommodation,

• providing a youth facilitator for the panel,

• reporting to the Group’s insights to myself as Minister of Education, and

• sharing the insights gathered with relevant Ministry groups and the education sector agencies. 

Q: Who will facilitate the Youth Advisory Group meeting or events?

A: An experienced Youth Facilitator has been selected by Ministry of Education officials.

Q: How will the insights and perspectives of these young people on the Advisory Group and Online Forum inform decisions about education policies?

A: Providing avenues for young people to share their perspectives is always valuable. We have around 800,000 children and young people in the education system at any one time.

The Advisory Group and the Online Forum provide two opportunities for our young people to share their own experiences of our education system. And with a fast evolving, digital world, we can discuss some of the most important issues facing them today. For example, we are currently gathering up sector and community perspectives on the Digital Technologies curriculum - we would expect children and young people to tell us how they are using technology as an integral part of their own learning, and their views on the skills they think they need to compete in a connected and global job marketplace.

Q: What happens to the students' views once they're shared them at the meetings?

A: The Group meetings will be facilitated by an independent youth facilitator who will collate the information and insights generated during the discussions.

The insights will be fed back to the Group to make sure they accurately reflect their views.  The insights will then be tested with the Online Forum, so that we get a breadth and as many diverse perspectives as possible.

The Ministry will then report this back to me, to the Minister as an Education Report.  The insights gathered will also be fed back to the Leadership Team within the Ministry, relevant Business Groups and education sector agencies.

As the membership matures in experience and expectations, the Group members may wish to collaborate more on the reporting.  At that time, we can review how best to do this.

Q: Will the students' views be presented to policy people at the time they're making key decisions?

A. All insights will be shared with policy and there may be specific times when they are also invited to attend a meeting when we are talking about specific policy e.g. the NCEA review in 2018.

Q: Have New Zealand's children or young people's views and perspectives have been taken into account by the education system in New Zealand before?

A: Children and young people are at the centre of education in New Zealand and the recent update to the Education Act emphasises that point.

However, while research and educators often seeks the views of learners, there has not been a formalised and sustained mechanism for young people to communicate their views on policy or voice their experiences of education with the Minister of Education. This group initiative establishes and enforces that mechanism for our young people.

Q: Why are you setting up this Youth Advisory Group?

A: It is essential that all New Zealanders receive an education that is useful and relevant to them, so that they succeed and go on to further education in universities, polytechnics, other tertiary providers, or industry training such as apprenticeships; and that they have hope for their futures.

The establishment of a Youth Advisory Group and Online Youth Forum offers us a fresh and exciting opportunity to really engage with young people about education.

While we have some specific topics we may want to seek their views on, we also want the Advisory Group to have the opportunity to drive the conversation and decide what gets discussed at each meeting.  Topics we expected to canvass include the future of work, student wellbeing, education priorities, and their perspectives on technology and the use of digital tools in learning and assessment.