14 Feb 2020

Number of children attending school regularly continues to fall - latest figures

6:09 pm on 14 February 2020

The number of children attending school is falling.

Ministry of Education data shows that 58 percent of students regularly attended school during Term 2 of 2019 (file photo). Photo: 123RF

The associate minister for education, Tracey Martin, announced the Ministry of Education 2019 Term 2 findings in Auckland's Papakura today.

The numbers paint an unsavoury picture of school attendance rates, that have been declining since 2015.

Released today, the data shows 58 percent of students were regularly going to school, down from 64 percent in 2018.

Minister Tracey Martin said some of the worsening statistics could be put down to legitimate illness, but patterns also showed a jump in absences on Mondays, Fridays and the last day of term.

The largest declines were among primary school and Māori and Pacific students.

Every day at school matters, and parents and schools need to take the issue seriously, Martin said.

"We're trying to get across to parents and students that a loss of a day adds up over time. You're not going to achieve at the level you could achieve at if you had been at school."

Martin announced an Attendance Services pilot programme to be run in South Auckland and Kawerau.

She said the government would work closely with the schools to develop the plans, in the hopes it will make services more effective.

The president of the New Zealand Education Institute, Te Riu Roa Liam Rutherford, described the programmes as "very positive".

Attendance is a complex issue that require parents, teachers and government to work together, he said.

"In some places we are seeing societal norms shift away from the importance of education at times, which is worrying."

He said parents taking children out of school to make the most of long weekends and holidays is just one part of the problem, and resourcing and community relationships are also important factors in attendance.

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