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Alwyn Poole: Forced Absenteeism in our Schools and the Impact on Learning and Families

The attendance data that Associate Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, stated was the most important in terms of policy impact was the Term 2 data this year.

Regular attendance measures the percentage of students who have attended more than 90 percent of the term.

Results for regular attendance in term two were:

All deciles were well down on previous years.

There were approximately 128,000 students “chronically” absent in that they missed 30% or more school days.

Going to school either matters or it doesn’t. Schools, teachers and the Ministry of Education say that it does, and outcome/attendance data certainly supports that view. You would think then it would be all hands- on- deck to maximise students coming to school in these fractured times.

So, I have been somewhat stunned to hear from a range of families where schools have taken 12 or more teacher only days (TODs) this year. All children are marked present for these days which is, in effect, forced absenteeism. The TODs are also rarely coordinated so a working parent, with three children at different schools, could have had up to 36 days to revamp their lives for. I am hearing of working people who have used up all of their annual leave through the impact of TODs. Some schools retort that “they are not a baby-sitting service”. No one expects them to be – just that when schools are “open” and during term time children should be able to go and be well taught.

Add to that the full-on round of paid union meetings at present ...

Is it any wonder that so many children/families are seeing school as an option - not an imperative?

Alwyn Poole Innovative Education Consultants

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