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QPEC Applauds Children’s Commissioner’s report

Quality Public Education Coalition

29 August 2012

Media Release:

QPEC Applauds Children’s Commissioner’s report

QPEC applauds the recommendations from the expert advisory group setup by the Children’s Commissioner for the provision of free meals in schools, improving housing for those on low-incomes and re-introducing a universal child payment of $125 to $150 per week.

The expert panel says that having 270,000 or nearly one in four New Zealand children living below the poverty line is unacceptable. QPEC agrees.

The report’s recommendations are long overdue and we will be joining other groups to encourage the government to implement them without delay.

It is well known that the most important determinant of student achievement is the socio-economic position of the child’s family.

Schools must set high standards and have high expectations of students but educational success will always be seriously undermined -

· When children turn up to school hungry and unable to learn

· When high levels of poverty-related “transience” (children changing school frequently so they can’t develop good learning habits and fall hopelessly behind their peers) prevent learning

· When class sizes are too large to develop close teacher/student learning relationships where they are most needed

· When children are in over-crowded, cold, damp homes

Meanwhile the government is demanding improved academic achievement for children in a context of increased impediments to learning. QPEC notes it is impossible to achieve this improvement without significant support for schools and teachers. New Zealand schools do brilliantly by international standards but with better support, more can be done for our most needy children.

We support free, healthy school meals for all disadvantaged children, good quality pastoral care in each school, creative and successful learning systems that engage failing students and help them learn and high quality support for schools, instead of the usual government attacks on teachers.

We call on the government to support an effective way forward to pull this generation of children out of poverty, and improve their learning.

A free breakfast programme for all children in decile 1 to 3 state schools would cost the government around $35 million dollars per year. That is less than half the amount the government pays each year for children to attend private schools. For the government to continue to allow children to start each school day hungry is an affront to New Zealand’s “fair go” values.

Teachers and schools are more than ready to play their part for the next generation – it’s the government which must now get in behind our children.

ends

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