Teachers and tamariki at the centre of attendance crisis

Lower class sizes, more teacher aides and much great access to learning support for all tamariki who need it are among key solutions to turning around attendance, NZEI Te Riu Roa has said in response to the Education Review Office, which released its report on school attendance last week. 

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The report examined why attendance is down and presented some solutions to this.

“Students who feel like they belong in their school are more likely to attend regularly.  Anything we can do to support the connection between teachers and students is a critical part of the solution to attendance,” NZEI President Liam Rutherford said.

NZEI Te Riu Roa supports taking a Māori-first approach to the education system which prioritises Māori thinking, learning and practice, and system change in areas like streaming to recreate education that recognises and uplifts Māori people and their identity.

“Making learning more engaging is one of the report’s recommendations. Teachers are absolutely up for this. Of course, this becomes much more achievable when class sizes are at a level when teachers can have more quality time with each student.

“Having smaller class sizes has been shown to improve attendance because it allows teachers to differentiate teaching to individual needs and build better, more trusting relationships with students.

“Recent international research on the relationship between attendance and class size found that ‘class size reductions significantly reduce the frequency of chronic absence’.

“Properly funding learning support, including much greater numbers of teacher aides and learning support coordinators or SENCOs in every school will also be critical to address the attendance for students with disabilities or additional learning needs.

“The 2021 Pūaotanga report shows clearly that our current primary staffing model is inadequate: that right now, with the resources available to them, it’s just not possible for our country’s educators to give each and every child the support they need to achieve their potential.

“Fix staffing in education and we will go a long way to fixing attendance.”

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