Back on Track - National's plan to catch up for lost class time

 

When schools were forced to close their doors to students in March last year, Covid had only been in the country for a little over a month. Back then, it was completely understandable our schools were not prepared for a sudden shift to working from home. No one was.

Given the circumstances, though, schools, teachers, parents and students all over the country did an amazing job. The speed at which they were able to adapt to teaching and learning online, and the hard work everyone did to minimise the lockdown damage to Kiwi kids’ education, was truly astonishing.

The whole country, in fact, did the hard work to eliminate Covid. That effort bought us all time to prepare – a luxury most other countries didn’t have. Sadly, this Government wasted that opportunity.

They patted themselves on the back for 18 months, and left us as sitting ducks for Delta. That’s why Aucklanders are now entering week 13 of lockdown. Why hundreds of thousands of Kiwi children have missed out on an entire term of crucial class time. Why their educational achievement and learning progress has been harmed.

It’s why so many kids and young adults have had significant milestones taken away from them. The chance to represent their school in sport or music. The opportunity to perform in kapa haka or a school play. To experience the pride from walking across stage at prize giving. The excitement of attending their school ball.

Regrettably, most of these important moments can’t be returned to our kids. They are gone forever. But, if we take the correct actions over the next year, we can limit and even reverse the damage done to their education. We can help these kids catch up.

National will continue to fight for you. We will continue to push the Government to not just react, but to prepare, to plan, and to act. To do what’s necessary to get every child’s education back on track.

A good education is the most powerful gift we can give to any young New Zealander, especially to Kiwis from disadvantaged backgrounds. That gift is being taken away. The risks from kids not going back to school – the disengagement, the loss of social connection, the forgetting of how to do maths – outweigh the risks of reopening schools.

You can read our full education plan here or continue reading a summary of actions below.



1. Reopen all schools

  • Reopen all schools immediately.
  • Urgently roll out vaccination in schools for children aged 12 and over, and be ready to extend this immediately to younger children as soon as MedSafe approval is granted.
  • Provide schools with rapid antigen tests to regularly test their workforce.

→ You can read more on these steps on Page 6 of our full plan here.



2. Make sure kids are in class

  • Require schools to submit attendance data to the Ministry of Education every term, and publish each school’s overall attendance rate for each term online.
  • Ensure the Ministry of Education is properly enforcing schools’ legal obligations to record and monitor attendance and work to improve it.
  • Set all schools a target for every student to attend at least 90% of available school time each term.
  • Require any school where fewer than 80% of students meet the 90% attendance target over two consecutive terms to develop and implement a truancy plan, to be signed off by the Ministry of Education.
  • Require any school where fewer than 50% of students meet the 90% attendance target over two consecutive terms to hire a specialist truancy advisor who will be tasked with lifting attendance.

→ You can read more on these steps on Pages 7-9 of our full plan here.



3. Catch up for lost class time

  • Require at least one hour of maths and one hour involving literacy to be taught to all Year 1-10 students each school day (on average).
  • Freeze all other major changes to the curriculum and NCEA for at least two years, so teachers can focus solely on helping students catch up (and teacheronly days required for NCEA change can be cancelled and used for teaching).
  • Provide “catch up grants” of up to $400 per student for schools to invest in initiatives to help their students catch up, such as extra tutoring, teacher aides, counsellors, or longer school days.

→ You can read more on these steps on Pages 10-12 of our full plan here.



4. Measure every child's progress

  • Require every school to benchmark each Year 3-10 student’s reading, writing and maths ability using the Ministry of Education’s e-asTTle assessment tool by the end of March 2022.
  • Require schools to work with parents to develop a simple, plain language learning recovery plan for every student who is a year or more behind expected numeracy and literacy standards for their age.
  • Require ongoing assessment against this benchmark to occur at least once every school term, with progress reported directly to parents and to the Ministry of Education.

→ You can read more on these steps on Pages 13-15 of our full plan here.



5. Learn the lessons from lockdown

  • Instruct the Ministry of Education to work with schools to identify and publish the lockdown innovations that could be retained to improve the way children learn in Kiwi classrooms.
  • Integrate the best of online learning into the school day, for example by providing training and support for the use of digital tools that enhance engagement, assessment and feedback.
  • Increase choice for students by expanding access to online courses while in school, and specialist teachers in areas like second languages.

→ You can read more on these steps on Page 16 of our full plan here.



We are calling on the Government to adopt National’s Back on Track education plan immediately, in full, to give parents and children the certainty they deserve.

The risks from kids not going back to school – the disengagement, the loss of social connection, the forgetting of how to do maths – outweigh the risks of reopening schools.

 



You can watch coverage of the Plan launch here:

 



You can find Press Statements from National's Spokespeople here:

 

→ Judith Collins & Paul Goldsmith - National releases plan to get school students back on track