Ice cream and gender identity to be canvased in School Census

Well-being, gender identity, ethnicity and attitudes to social media and climate change are just some of the issues to be canvassed in the 11th biannual school census kicking off as students return to classrooms next month.

Non-profit Tatauranga Ki Te Kura (Census At School New Zealand), supported by the University of Auckland, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education canvassed 35,000 students from more than 600 schools during its last survey in 2021.

Students in the voluntary study will be asked about verything from their overall mental health, through to if they identify as Male, Female or ‘another gender’

Supervised by teachers, students from Years 3-13 anonymously answer the 30 questions in English or te reo Māori.

The project will ‘comprehensively chart students views of their own lives’ former University of Auckland statistics department lecturer and study co-founder Rachel Cunliffe says.

“Topics as wide-ranging as favourite ice cream flavour, the amount of time they spend on digital devices, whether or not they have blocked someone in the past week, opinions on alcohol, how many close friends they have, how happy they say they are overall, and their favourite sport to play” are within the research scope.

Place of birth and the number of languages spoken at home will also be canvassed.

The schools themselves, government agencies and NGOs will be able to use the data to understand the changing face of New Zealand classrooms, for resource allocation and associated curriculum decisions.

Much of the non-sensitive, randomised data will be made available on the organisation’s website from February 27.

Public Interest Journalism