Posted: 30 November 2015
By John Cody

The Working Group on the Porirua Report on the Status of Children and Young People (see the note last month) has begun to prepare its proposal.

The local members of the Group are: Ranei Wineera-Parai, Taima Fagaloa, Kerry Delaney, Andrew Waa and me. I emphasise that the comments that follow are my personal, preliminary impressions of how this work will proceed. I have made these comments now because the Our Porirua deadline for November is approaching and the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of December.

I will circulate specific aspects of the discussion to people who have been actively interested in the Shine process as they become available.

The more important point is that this is an open, democratic process. The Working Group will report to the Council early in 2016 and the normal procedures for public participation will apply. The main objective of the Shine Management Group that took responsibility for the output of the Shine summit was to contribute to a properly constituted democratic process. That objective has now been achieved.

Based on discussion to date I believe the Status Report will address three result areas related to:

  • Participation of children and young people in the city, perhaps with particular emphasis on – but not confined to – civic decision making;
  • The trajectories or learning pathways offered to and taken by children and young people; and
  • Influential factors in the social system that affect the distribution of opportunities in the city.

There are a growing number of situations where young people have been involved in local decision making e.g. the Splash Pad and health services for young people. Practice guidelines are emerging to embed and develop these processes. Some recommendations are likely to suggest ways these activities can be reported publicly.

It is also likely that formal education will be the core of the section on trajectories or pathways, and that the focus will remain on meaningful participation and successful transitions as initially sketched in the Shine Education Landscape. There is a substantial amount of infrastructure in place that should inform understanding of the circumstances and support for families with children between conception and the end of the first year of primary school e.g. six week enrolments and checks, B4 School checks, Six Year Net. There are serious questions about the consistency and effectiveness of, and responses to, some current assessment.

Progress is being made with improving the design of health services for young people. The situation is not as clear for secondary education in the city. The Shine Reference Group noted problems with providing full coverage of the national curriculum and a complete range of vocational pathways when rolls are relatively low. The Group recommended that local secondary education be regarded as a single system. On the face of it the recently announced Communities of Schools do not seem to address that issue.

There are some complexities about the way societal influences can be related to the role of Council and others in the city. Among other things the Working Group decided to consider the applicability of Amartya Sen’s capability approach. That approach might provide a pragmatic and logical way of organising a manageable set of indicators that can guide the application of the principles of equity and sustainability in the Long Term Plan.

Any comments on this approach or alternatives are welcome.

Defining Priorities

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