Thin rations to turn around truancy crisis

Parents and teachers will be disappointed that in a Budget with about $15 billion worth of new spending, so little was devoted to pressing challenges in education, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“While a little bit of help was promised for Alternative Education and intensive support for children with serious needs, there was no meaningful improvement in support for most schools struggling to cope with students with learning or behavioural needs.

“Labour chose to invest in the NCEA change programme and while NCEA does need significant improvements to make it more robust, there is still great uncertainty in the sector about the direction of travel in the changes.

“Well over $200 million has gone to restructuring in the Ministry of Education to make changes after the Tomorrow’s Schools review. It remains to be seen how all of this money will help students and teachers.

“In the meantime, only $5 million a year extra has been found to deal with the truancy crisis that is foundational to improving our educational performance.

“The latest figures available show that 53 secondary schools and 34 primary schools had fewer than 30 per cent of students attending regularly in Term 4 last year.

“You can’t expect a child to learn if they’re not at school.

“In a budget of billions, failing to invest properly in solving our truancy crisis will mean tens of thousands of children will continue to miss out on the opportunity a good education provides.”