PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 27 April 2023 -
Half of students still not attending school regularly
Attendance data from Term 4 2022 shows that Labour has barely made a dent when it comes to getting kids back to school, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.
“Today’s data showing that half of Kiwi students did not attend school regularly in Term 4 last year shows that Labour is failing to get on top of New Zealand’s low school attendance rates.
“Our kids need to be at school every single day if they are to receive the education necessary to live the lives they want. This is especially the case for learners from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who rely on education to change their circumstances.
“The Education Minister continues to blame low attendance rates on Covid, but the reality is that unjustified absences have reached an all-time high.
“Instead of focusing on improving attendance rates, during its time in office Labour has hired an additional 1,500 head office staff at the Ministry of Education. Only recently, after five years of decline and under a mountain of political pressure, did the Government find the resources for 82 attendance officers scattered across the country.
“Labour is delusional if it thinks 82 attendance officers – each covering 31 schools and 10,000 students – will make a meaningful difference to attendance rates.
“Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said in a speech today that education is the “bedrock of our egalitarian society and the great equaliser”.
“The reality is that, under his watch as Education Minister, attendance rates in decile 1 schools fell to less than half that of decile 10.
“Labour has failed a generation of children with its misguided approach to education that has seen achievement in the basics plummet, in addition to abysmally low attendance.
“National would hold itself, schools and parents accountable for ensuring that kids are regularly in school.
“National would also ensure that the Ministry of Education publishes better data in real-time and that every school's data is published online every term.
“Attendance is a complex problem that needs smart, individualised solutions. National will shift resources from back-office bureaucrats in Wellington to the frontline, so schools have the support they need to give every child the opportunity to benefit from a world-class education.”