Silly school stats

Stuff reports:

They are Christchurch’s moon shot children, travelling thousands of extra kilometres every week to avoid their local high school.

Students travel a total of 171,000 kilometres a day getting to Christchurch schools, but would save 71,000km a day if they went to their nearest school, a new study has found.

The 71,000km daily saving, which is four times the distance from Christchurch to London, comes to about 355,000km of extra travel a week – close to the 384,000km distance to the moon from Earth.

With around 20,000 students the finding is effectively that the average student travels an extra 2 km (each way) a day to get to their desired school. Wow wee.

They then multiply that up to try and sound impressive.

Here’s something equally silly.

Two million New Zealanders travel an (say) average 20 kms a day to get to their desired workplace, rather than the one closest to them.

That is 200 million kms travelled a week or the distance from the Sun to Mars.

Over a year that is equal to three trips to Pluto. All because people choose to work not at their closest business.

Devonport said parents needed more information to make better decisions about where to send their child.

Don’t you love the assumption. Parents are making bad decisions because they are choosing not to send their kids to the nearest school. How dare they.

The parents of school age kids I know do not make school decisions lightly. They regard it as one of the most crucial decisions for their children’s future. They spend a lot of time visiting schools, talking to other parents, reading ERO reports etc. But it seems they need to make better decisions according to this research because some parents decide not to attend the nearest school.

“The data used in this research was only available on request from NZQA. As a result, parents may be relying on potentially unverified and anecdotal information to form a perception of school quality when choosing a school for their child,” he wrote in the report.

How dare parents make decisions based on anecdotal evidence such as talking to other parents.

“If parents exercise choice when sending their child to school in the absence of easily understandable statistical information, they could potentially rely on stereotypes, prejudices, or misinformation to make their decision.”

“These results provide some evidence to the conclusion reached in previous research that parents avoid their closest school if there are perceived quality issues with it.”

Devonport also calculated which school rolls would grow if pupils attended their nearest school, effectively highlighting which schools were being bypassed by parents.

Linwood College, Mairehau High School and Hornby High School would all see their rolls swell by more than 200 per cent.

The answer is not to force people to attend schools they don’t want to.

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