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Education changes ignore underlying issue of poverty

24 January 2014: News from CPAG  

PRESS RELEASE Child Poverty Action Group says education changes ignore underlying issue of poverty.

Child Poverty Action Group welcomes extra funding targeted towards improving educational achievement but says policy changes announced yesterday will make only a small impact. 

Education spokesperson Dr Vicki Carpenter says, "Spending on compulsory education has been declining in recent years so this is a step in the right direction. Until income inadequacy is properly addressed and appropriate resources are directed to schools serving low income communities, any gains are likely to be minimal."

Dr Carpenter says poverty-related issues underpin the increasing gap in achievement between students from high and low income families, as highlighted by the latest PISA (Programme in International Student Assessment) report.

The Government will spend $359 million over the next four years making changes that introduce new tiers of specialist school leaders and teacher leaders in a move to improve educational underachievement.

CPAG commends Prime Minister John Key's statement that the Government should do what it can to provide children and young people with opportunities to succeed, no matter what their family background or life circumstances.  However the government's policies in this area need to extend far beyond the education portfolio.

Dr Carpenter says, "Every child deserves to thrive, and any changes introduced by the Government need to include a comprehensive plan to reduce poverty.  A parallel social policy programme that addresses poverty and the problems it creates would be ideal.  Inadequate incomes result in struggling families having to go without basic necessities such as food, a warm and dry home, and adequate health care. These stresses have a harmful effect on children's learning and development and educational success."

"The government must take a comprehensive approach across all areas that affect vulnerable families to create long-lasting gains in educational achievement."

ENDS

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