Thursday, February 22, 2024

Richard Prebble: We must get our children back to school

It will not matter what was agreed in 1840 if the coalition cannot get our children back to school. Most children do not attend school regularly. Nations that do not educate the next generation are doomed to fail.

In the 3rd term last year most Pakeha pupils, 52%, did not go to school regularly. The kiwi malaise is affecting Asian students. 42% of Asian pupils were not regular attenders. Two thirds of Maori and Pacifica pupils were regularly absent.

90% attendance is enough to be marked a regular attender but not enough to ensure educational success. The education department’s research shows missing just one day affects NCEA results. Pupils who have 50% attendance, the Maori and Pacifica average, have zero chance of passing NCEA.

It gets worse.

An estimated 10,000 school aged children, that is the population of Whakatane, are not even enrolled at a school.

In the latest OECD International Student Assessment (OISA) New Zealand 15-year-olds have dropped 15 points for maths and 4-5 points for reading. Once New Zealand ranked near the top of international education assessment. Now third world nations get better scores.

The Education Department research reveals that pupils who never miss a day of school pass NCEA. Lifting attendance will lift educational achievement.

In Tomorrow’s Schools Labour put seven legal requirements on school boards plus schools must honour the treaty. There is no legal requirement for schools that pupils attend school.

We can blame parents. We can require schools to keep better records. We can hire truancy officers. It did not work for Labour. Why would it work for the coalition?

The community knows who those 10,000 missing pupils are. The community must be empowered to get children back into education. In some cases, it will be as simple as having someone take the child to school.

When my father retired, he volunteered to help his local school. They told him of a mother who was keeping her son at home. My father collected that boy for school every day. For another solo mother, my parents became her son’s adopted grandparents. That boy is now a doctor.

There are truants that just taking them to school will not work. When I chaired the cabinet committee on employment, we discovered most youth unemployed were functionally illiterate and innumerate. We invited the community to provide training. Community groups like the YMCA responded with very successful programs that got young people into employment. Such organizations could run programs for truants, reintroduce them to learning so they can rejoin school.

There is one very successful program that has taken pupils whose school attendance was irregular and NCEA scores were failing. Charter Schools improved pupils’ attendance and lifted pupils’ NCEA scores above the national average.

In every charter there was a requirement that pupils attend regularly. Regular attendance may be the reason charter schools were so successful. Maori and Pacific pupils who had been failing had their NCEA scores lifted above the average for all students.

Regular attendance should be a legal requirement for all schools.

Schools today are paid for the number of pupils that they enroll, not the number they teach. In some states in America schools are paid for the number of pupils who sit the standardized assessment. Students must be at school to be assessed so schools prioritize attendance. If we only paid schools for the number of pupils assessed attendance would be every school’s priority.

We know public charter schools lift education achievement. An independent review reported to the Labour government that the charter schools were a success. Labour abolished charter schools claiming the government would lift Maori and Pacifica achievement. Attendance and achievement both fell.

There is an article in this month’s Economist magazine on a Standford University comprehensive study of charter schools that in America educate four million pupils. The study found Charter Schools are excelling. On average charter school pupils are outperforming the public-school average. The Economist describes “hundreds of successful charters where disadvantaged pupils (black, Hispanic, poor pupils or English-learners) performed similarly to or better than their more advantaged peers”.

The magazine notes that “Democrats have no obvious parent-friendly education policy to promote now they have turned away from charter-school expansion”. So too for the Labour Party.

Every pupil should be able to attend a public charter school freed from the bureaucracy of a one size fits all system. It is how we will once again lead in educational achievement.

National and Act’s coalition agreement provides for public charter schools and to allow state schools to become charter schools. The sooner the better.

Like my father before me, I am volunteering to assist in educating the young. I am going to do what I can so every child has the opportunity of a public charter school education.

The Honourable Richard Prebble CBE is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004. This article was sourced HERE.


CXH said...

That results are so abysmal, yet everyone in the MoE keeps their jobs. It shows how broken our public service has become over the last 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Yes the results are abysmal but so is the definition of education in NZ. And the educational institutions. And the dumbing down of universities and the loss of identity of polytechnics.

Then there is the social chaos we are told about at schools eg Bullying of both teachers and pupils, gender and sexual identity politics, lies about NZ history and superiority of those with certain DNA contributions.

School … nah. Can learn just as meaningfully on TikTok.

Gaynor said...

No Richard, just shoving kids into school will not be enough to raise our abysmal rankings on international and national tests nor be the solution to much truancy.

I have been involved in education for about 45 years and observed NZ education when we scored the highest in reading comprehension and now when we have the lowest scores in the English speaking world

Shockingly , our schooling is so bad in many instances it would be better if kids stayed home. Being involved in remedial tuition, reveals to me that undoing wrong methods of reading and arithmetic inculcated into students at school can take a long time to reverse. For example a child is a compulsive guesser of words
instead of stopping and approaching the word by sounding it out or a confused child who doesn't know their tables but frantically endeavours to apply one of the algorithms or several strategies promoted at school. Just recently a student was told by his teacher the remainder of a division sum was the same as the number in the fractional remainder. Hence 7 divided by 2 would be 3-1 !

And this is only the academic side .I know of children who have school anxiety not just because they can;t do the school work but are also horribly bullied ( see David Lillis' articles on this on this site)

Even professional parents who would consider truancy with disgust are loathe to have their children indoctrinated into the various -isms prevalent in our schools. The lack of discipline , work ethic and morality is counter to many parents home beliefs including those of low SES.

Face it, much of what is going on in our schools is actually destructive and often best to be avoided if you can with homeschooling or attending a charter school. Even private schools I have experienced are not at the standard of traditional state schooling in NZ mid last century.

Hazel Modisett said...

Make the curriculum interesting & most importantly VALID & be honest & kids will want to learn. Kids are smart & know when they are being played, have no time for being force fed a bunch of revisionist crap & do not respect "educators" that push an ideology they dont share.
Parents do not abdicate responsibility for their children & do not want their sons turned into effeminate fairies or their daughters turned into blue haired harpies. Why bother with the expense & drama of attending schools when you can get a better education on YouTube, while exploring your own curriculum & having fun while your doing it ?