National supports the initial investment in remote learning measures parents and schools can help ensure children continue to learn during lockdown, but there is a lot more to do, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“We want to see children back in school as soon as safely possible, which is why quarantining arrivals at the border, increasing the number of people tested and tracing all contacts are critical.
“The Government has focused on devices, connectivity and some teacher professional development, which is a good first step. It’s important to ensure disadvantaged children or children in remote areas are connected where possible and there is more to be done to address the significant cost to teachers and parents around internet connection.
“However, the message from a range of educators is there are still significant financial challenges and we need to make sure we are not just focused on technology but also on ensuring high quality learning experiences in an online environment.
“Home learning television has been provided in other jurisdictions and while this will be positive for some, we should not see this as a substitute for long term remote learning given the need for interactive experiences in learning.
“Some issues we believe the Government needs to be urgently addressing include:
- The viability of some education institutions, such as the tertiary sector, early learning centres, independent schools and schools who have financial challenges due to a lack of fundraising;
- Greater support for parents who are taking an active role in their child’s education
- Greater support for other education workers including support staff, relief teachers, and those working with children with additional learning needs during this time;
- A clear plan around psychosocial/mental health support for children and teachers impacted by Covid-19;
- A package of vocational and upskilling opportunities for people who are displaced as a result of Covid-19.
“The reality is we would have been further ahead in lockdown if the Government had implemented more of the 21st Century Learning Reference Group’s recommendations, implemented a framework for communities of online learning and properly rolled out the digital technologies curriculum.
“National will continue to support the Government around our education system to ensure people are safe, children are receiving quality teaching and learning despite disruptions and that we take the opportunity to transform our education system.”