Government hiding our student attendance crisis

The only way we can fix New Zealand’s appalling school attendance levels is by first knowing the full extent of the problem, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

The Ministry of Education told the Education and Workforce Select Committee that schools were submitting attendance data for all four terms for 2019 and 2020, and that this data would be publicly released by the end of February 2021.

We’re now in the middle of March, and attendance figures are yet to emerge, Mr Goldsmith says.

“The Government must take student attendance more seriously. It needs to release all school attendance data so New Zealanders know the true extent of the issue.

“From the information that is publicly available, which only covers Term 2, it seems more than 300,000 students are not attending school on a regular basis. That’s an entire city of students who are missing from our classrooms.

“Over the last two years, less than half of students in Decile 1 and 2 schools attended classes regularly.

“The research is unequivocal, student learning progress is set back every single day a student is absent.

“We have no hope of turning around a student’s declining performance in foundational subjects if they are not even at school.

“Worryingly, because handing over attendance data is voluntary, the information we do have does not account for about 14 per cent of schools.

“Even when the full 2019 and 2020 figures are eventually released, the true scale of the problem will not be known.

“The first step to finding solutions to this issue is knowing the full extent of the problem. The Government must release all the data around our appalling attendance rates so we can get students back in class and turn this situation around.”