Low school attendance is another sign that the country’s education system is slipping, with children from lower socio-economic areas being the most affected, said the executive director of the New Zealand Initiative.
The New Zealand Initiative is a think tank that conducts research to help New Zealand plan for its future.
He commented on new research from the Education Review Bureau which shows that children are missing out on school more in New Zealand than in other English-speaking countries.
The office found that four in ten parents were comfortable with their child missing a week or more of school per term and a third of students did not consider going to school that important. school every day.
The report, Missing Out: Why don’t our children go to school?, said that even missing two days of class per term was linked to lower performance.
He revealed that families kept children at home due to illness, but also because they were tired, in poor mental health or bullied.
The report surveyed learners in grades 4-13 across Aotearoa and their parents.
New Zealand Initiative executive director Oliver Hartwich said this should come as no surprise, with student results also declining year on year.
Hartwich said the system was in crisis.
The education system had been in decline for 25 years and data confirmed his point of view, such as the Pisa study carried out by the OECD. For example, in mathematics, the knowledge of a 15-year-old New Zealand student was equivalent to that of a 13.5-year-old student 20 years ago.
There were similar issues with writing and literacy, Hartwich said.
“So the system is in decline. It’s a national scandal. I would say it’s a national disgrace.”
hartwich said morning report several studies had produced figures similar to those revealed in the ORE report which also showed a massive gap between the top and bottom deciles.
“So attendance is much worse in our bottom decile communities. We need to do something about that. We need to increase attendance or we won’t have the opportunity to impart the kind of education that our children need. “
He welcomed Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ admission yesterday that the education system needed to be straightened out, but said he had heard similar assurances from other education ministers around the world. recent years.
It will take a long time to change things, and what is most upsetting is the social injustice, with students from disadvantaged backgrounds being the most affected.
“If you are poor in New Zealand, you are much less likely to get a decent education in school.”
Test scores were unevenly distributed, depending on family income, with better-off parents stepping in to pay school fees and offering more experiences outside of school, such as visiting a museum or trips to the stranger.
“For all the other children, where the means are not there, school is the only chance they have of acquiring a decent education and advancing in life.”
There were a few exceptions among schools in decile one that had produced “stellar” results, Hartwich said.
The institute has developed a model that the Ministry of Education should share so that other schools in less privileged socio-economic areas can learn from it.
“They need to share the stories of these top decile one schools performing across the system to improve each school and they also need to identify which schools are making progress because they also need our attention.”
School is not the priority it should be – ERO
The head of the bureau’s Education Assessment Center, Ruth Shinoda, said morning report even before the pandemic, only three out of five children attended school regularly.
“We just don’t prioritize school and see how important going to school really is.”
With four in 10 parents comfortable with their child missing a week or more of school per term, which amounts to missing a year of school by the time the child turns 16, Shinoda says.
Attendance was declining faster in primary schools despite the early years laying the foundation for a child’s education.
Attendance was lower in poorer areas and rates had fallen faster.
“What we found was that children in poorer areas were more motivated by seeing how education was helping their future, but they face more barriers. Things like transportation or not being able to have the things they need and a few have family responsibilities.”
Maori and Pacific children have lower attendance rates, however, the latter showed the highest motivation to go to school because they wanted to make their family proud, Shinoda says.
Attendance patterns established early – principal
Schools say there is no easy fix for low attendance rates across the country, but they know what is needed.
Greenmeadows Intermediate principal Cathy Chalmers said her school was among those interviewed for the report and the report’s findings reflected the school’s attendance record.
Melanie Webber. Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King/RNZ.
She says attendance was a complex issue, but she had observed that parents and students did not consider odd days here and there away from school to matter.
“However, those days add up and parents don’t seem to be keeping track of how many days their children have off. This is something we were asked to point out.”
The other important factor was that attendance patterns were established early and tended to last throughout a student’s schooling.
Schools were implementing strategies to try to improve attendance, she said.
They wanted to work alongside families to find ways to get their children back to school, especially if they had been away for a while.
Post Primary Teachers Association president Melanie Webber said attendance had deteriorated since the pandemic began.
The effects were cumulative and could be seen in much lower literacy and numeracy rates for grade nine entering high school.
“I don’t think punitive measures are a way to go,” Webber says.
“I think we need to have a lot more understanding of what’s going on; we need to encourage parents to realize what the impact is and we need to make sure we have those supports in schools so schools can work with it. parents and whānau and with students to understand what is going on.”
Any barriers such as difficulty getting to school needed to be explored as well as the appointment of more learning support coordinators and guidance counselors to work with families.
“These are all things we asked for,” Webber says.