Creating "middle schools" for students in Years 7-10 could help teenagers make good decisions and avoid risky behaviour, according to a school principal.
Principal of Christchurch's St Margaret's College, Gillian Simpson, says her school's initiative of separating Years 7-10 (Forms 1-4), has had a drastic impact on behaviour.
"It's that crucial age from 11 to 15. One of the things we've lost in society is rites of passage ... we're trying to create rites of passage through that school system."
She says it has stopped Year 10 becoming a "lost year", because students in that year assume a leadership position.
"What we've done is make Year 10s, the old fourth form, the top of that middle school, so it runs from Year 7-10.
"Those Year 10 students have risen to the challenge of leadership, ownership and responsibility. They are caring for younger ones and making decisions in the school."
Simpson says more emphasis needs to be put on teaching young people respect and resilience, as well as achieving academically.
Prime Minister John Key has commissioned urgent research to better understand the issues which can make adolescence a "powder keg" of bad decisions and risky behaviour.
It was announced after the sudden deaths of two students from Auckland's King's College within a fortnight of each other.
Sixteen-year-old James Webster died on May 8 after drinking vodka.
Michael Treffers, 15, died after an incident at a Southern Motorway over-bridge a little over a week later.
What do you think of the concept of "middle schools"? Do you think New Zealand should have them?