Kiwi mums care more about kids fitting in than grades - report

New Zealand mums are more concerned about their children fitting in at school than how they perform academically, according to a report.  

Kiwi mums just want their kids to feel welcomed when they start school, a report called Growing Up in New Zealand says. It's no surprise, with teenagers in New Zealand reporting the second-highest rate of bullying out of 51 countries, according to a three-year OECD survey. 

Recently, a 16-year-old student who was attacked by bullies at James Cook High School in New Zealand said he was too afraid to return to school after he was taken to Middlemore Hospital with serious head and facial injuries. 

New Zealand has some of the worst school bullying in the world. Child Psychologist Emma Woodward told The AM Show in April that one in four children in New Zealand are reporting bullying. She said schools that report lower levels of bullying also report higher levels of well-being and belonging. 

Kiwi mums might be pleased to know then that over a third of the mothers who participated in the Growing Up in New Zealand study - which tracked 7000 Kiwi students - said they're satisfied that schools are meeting their children's needs, and 88 percent reported regular involvement in some way with their children's school. 

But an area of concern for mums with young children just starting school is that many students have had their teacher change within their first year, which can often be disruptive for children when they're building a routine. 

Teachers play an important role in helping children adjust to school. The study found that four out of five parents said their kids had adjusted to school life within six months, while some of them adjusted within one month. 

Kids adjusting to school quickly have been linked to an increase in early childhood education funding, thanks in part to the former National Government. The study found that almost all of the children (98 percent) had participated in some form of early childhood education which had better prepared them for starting school. 

But parent's satisfaction with their children's school isn't equal in New Zealand. Non-European mothers reported feeling less-satisfied with schools meeting their cultural needs, the study found. Government figures also show there are thousands of Kiwi kids growing up in poverty. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pledged to reduce the 150,000 Kiwi children living in poverty by 30,000. She also hopes to reduce the 160,000 children living in low-income households by 70,000 over three years.