Principals at the country’s poorest schools say deepening poverty is damaging the education of thousands of children.
School principal and NZEI executive member, Lynda Stuart says teachers and principals at decile one schools such as hers work extremely hard to ensure that children get every opportunity to succeed at school but growing poverty is making that increasingly difficult.
Latest Ministry of Education figures show that more than half of students in decile one schools live in overcrowded houses and 42 per cent are from poor families.
“In Auckland particularly, we’re seeing families suffering from enormous stress because of lower incomes coupled with the skyrocketing cost of housing.
“This is resulting in children living in overcrowded and stressed homes. It is having a huge effect on their health and consequent opportunities for learning. The biggest problems our school social worker deals with on a daily basis are poverty-related.”
Ms Stuart says poverty is the biggest obstacle to students’ educational success.
“It is totally unfair for those children and distressing for everyone working with those children. Our school community is amazing and very supportive of the school. They do their best for their kids but are up against the realities of poverty.
“How can the Government say we have a strong economy when so many children are living in poverty?
“We need much better support for schools in poorer areas along with policies that address the causes of poverty such as low wages and overpriced housing.
“The Government has an opportunity in this month’s Budget to start to address the rapidly growing inequality that it has been instrumental in creating.”