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School Attendance Report Hugely Concerning – More Time And Resources Needed

Turning around poor school attendance rates will not happen overnight but with the right solutions, it can happen, says Melanie Webber, President of PPTA Te Wehengarua.

“As the Education Review Office report released today (Thursday 10 November) shows, the factors that are resulting in fewer ākonga attending school regularly are wide-ranging and complex, and there is no easy fix.

However, teachers know what is needed.

“We desperately need more pastoral and guidance staff in our schools to help identify the students who are struggling, for a variety of reasons, and work with these rangatahi and their families through the problems and issues,

and keep them engaged at school – before we lose them.

“Relationships with students’ whānau and caregivers are hugely important – but teachers simply don’t have the time or the special skills that are often needed.

“Teachers and principals have implored the government, through our current collective agreement negotiations, to give schools more pastoral staffing support.”

“We also urge the Government to invest more in redesigning alternative education and providing an end-to-end system of support for children and

young people at risk of disengaging from education. It is crucial that there are effective educational options for those young people who are most in need.

“It is especially important that funding for more learning support coordinators across the school sector is in place as soon as possible.”

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Melanie Webber said secondary teachers agreed entirely with the report’s recommendation for schools to be great places to be.

“We too want schools to be great places - where teachers can delight in seeing learning unfold, can engage fully with ākonga, and help them with whatever parts of the curriculum they are struggling to grasp.

We need time to do this – currently teachers are being stretched in so many different ways that the joy of this amazing job is being lost.”

Schools cannot raise attendance rates on their own. Support from the Minsitry of Education, both locally in the form of support for whānau on the ground and nationally in the form of a

targeted, multi-media programme to informing parents about the importance – and their legal responsbilities – of schooling is needed urgently.

“The findings of this report are heartbreaking and have extremely serious implications for the future of Aotearoa New Zealand. We are committed to working with the government on effective solutions.”

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