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Education For Rural Families

The Education Review Office (ERO) has published a report that looks at rural families' perceptions of their children's education, from early childhood through to the end of secondary school.

Rural Education was written for rural parents and communities and describes the educational goals and experiences of 11 families living in rural areas.

"It's a good resource that will also help Government when developing policies for rural school children," Minister responsible for the Education Review Office Trevor Mallard said today.

"The Government is keeping its promise of better support for rural schools through initiatives like increased staffing; incentives for people from hard to staff rural areas to train as teachers; centralised provision of inservice teacher development; and support for Information and Communication Technology. These are important measures to ensure standards in rural schools are not sacrificed because of their small roll or distance from major centres.

"A 'market rules' education system will never benefit small, rural schools and the Government recognises our role in working more actively to help them give their students opportunities for excellence."

Trevor Mallard said that alongside the parents' stories in this report, ERO has included helpful information on related topics, such as: funding for rural schools; school transport assistance; homeschooling; boarding bursaries; Educational Development Initiatives; and rural early childhood education.

"The families interviewed by ERO highlighted a range of experiences and perceptions that is probably typical of many families in other parts of rural New Zealand. Parents regarded the environment in the small country primary school as extremely positive for their children. Secondary schooling was more of an issue for parents, and children sometimes went to boarding school or spent long hours travelling to school.

"For families in many rural areas, the range of education options is limited. Often there is only one early childhood provider and one school in the area, and, because rural schools tend to be small, the range of subject choices for senior students can be narrower than in larger urban schools.

"Nevertheless most parents felt their children's schools went to considerable efforts to overcome their geographical isolation and expose students to a wide range of experiences. The report is a tribute to the ongoing work on rural schools."

Nearly a third of New Zealand's schools are rural schools and about 10% of New Zealand students attend them.

The report has been sent to all schools, and is on ERO's website: www.ero.govt.nz.


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