See the live dashboard for CensusAtSchool 2021

Seven out of ten New Zealand school students found home learning during lockdown better, or the same, as learning in school normally

Seven out of ten New Zealand school students say that learning at home was the same or better during lockdown compared to learning in school normally, the latest results of a nationwide survey suggests.

The insight comes from CensusAtSchool TataurangaKiTeKura, a non-profit, online educational project that brings statistics to life in both English and Māori-medium classrooms. Supervised by teachers, students from Years 3-13 anonymously answer 34 questions in English or te reo Māori on digital devices.

This data comes from the first 13,431 students to complete the survey. This year, students were asked how they felt about learning at home during lockdown compared to learning in school normally. Overall, seven out of ten students felt that their learning at home was either better, or the same, as learning in school. The numbers were slightly lower for those studying towards their NCEA qualifications; 64% for Year 11, 59% for Year 12, and 51% for Year 13 students.

CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe says that this insight is valuable for students, parents, schools, and the wider educational system.

“Our students today are digital natives and reflect on their lockdown learning as largely a positive experience. This indicates their adaptability and enjoyment of online distance learning.”

The length of screentime that students say they get after they get home from school has slightly increased since the last time CensusAtSchool was run in 2019. High school students now spend a median of three and a half hours on their phone, computer, tablet, TV, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, and the like – but a quarter spent five and a quarter hours or more in front of a screen.

In other findings, 42% of students say they often get their news from social media including YouTube. This figure was higher than all other forms of media asked about, including TV (32%), Google or other search engines (26%), news websites or apps (17%), radio (16%), podcasts (5%), and only 5% from print publications such as newspapers and magazines.

The survey also asked students about their social media usage in the past week. 82% said that they had watched YouTube compared with only 16% who had used Facebook. TikTok came in second with 53%, Instagram on 45%, and followed closely by Snapchat on 44%.

In the battle of video games, 37% played Minecraft in the past week, compared with 31% for Roblox and only 16% played Fortnite.

In other findings, the top 10 favourite animated movies are:

  1. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train
  2. The Lion King
  3. Cars
  4. Shrek
  5. Raya and the Last Dragon
  6. The Simpsons Movie
  7. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  8. Frozen II
  9. Moana
  10. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse


CensusAtSchool runs every two years. This year’s census, the tenth, was launched on May 10 and runs until the end of 2022. During that time, more than 30,000 school students are expected to participate. 2,173 teachers from 1,094 schools have already registered.
See the questions, which schools are taking part, and a live dashboard of results on CensusAtSchool’s website: www.censusatschool.org.nz.

CensusAtSchool NZ is hosted by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in association with Stats NZ and the Ministry of Education.

CensusAtSchool is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people and is carried out in Australia, Canada, the United States, Japan, and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made.