Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Pre-Budget pledge to improve school attendance rates

Education Minister, Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister, Jan Tinetti have committed to improving student attendance at school and kura in a pre-Budget announcement today.

“It’s clear that young people need to be at school, and yet attendance rates haven’t been good for a long time. It’s a complex issue which has to be addressed right across Government, through social and economic policies that meet the needs of our communities,” Minister Hipkins said.

“There are many reasons why students disengage from learning and this has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are putting measures in place to help turn that around.

“Funding through Budget 2022 will support changes to the system and more targeted investment to make schools a place where all young people want to be, where they can access the support they need and where there are ways back into learning for those who have disengaged.”

He said a regional response fund of $40 million over four years was being established to meet local education needs, with a strong initial focus on ensuring students are going to school and are engaged in their learning.

“Funds will be provided through Te Mahau, which works closely with the sector and communities, as well as hapū and iwi to ensure frontline support is getting where it needs to in the way it needs to. Te Mahau was established to support all schools to succeed following the reform of Tomorrow’s Schools.”

“Some of what the regional response fund will be used for is ensuring pathways are there for disengaged youth alongside iwi, schools, councils and community groups and providers. It can be used to support whānau-led responses to break the cycle of disengagement, or brokering services with other agencies to ensure students have the level of support they need to stay in school. It’s important and complicated work, which this Government is committed to funding and fixing,” Mr Hipkins said.

Budget 2022 also sees $18.9 million to fund a refresh and enhancement of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) delivery to ensure the program is incorporating the most up to date research and is tailored to the New Zealand context.

This is a proven programme that has been in place since 2011 and the extra funding will mean:

  • $11.2 million to deliver 14 new School-Wide practitioners so each school using this service receives high quality support tailored to their needs;
  • $7.7 million to expand Check & Connect: Te Hononga and Te Mana Tikitiki, which provides targeted and intensive supports for Māori and Pacific learners at risk of disengaging, using kaupapa Māori and bicultural evidence-based approaches.

“We’re committed to supporting safe and inclusive school environments. This allows young people to be present and focused in their learning,” said Associate Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti.

“We also want to support teachers to meet the challenges that come with delivering learning to diverse communities and those with additional learning needs. We know young people thrive when strong connections and relationships exist between schools, parents, whānau and communities and that this improves education outcomes for students.”

Budget 2022 sees targeted investment aimed specifically at improving attendance and engagement with learning, including:

  • $7.8 million to address cost pressures in the Incredible Years programmes, to support caregivers, whānau, and school and early childhood educators to improve young children’s communication skills and emotional regulation;
  • $6 million to help address current Attendance Service cost pressures and allow providers to increase capacity to support schools;
  • $15.5 million to scale up Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu support for at-risk young people to reengage in school, in line with its proven ‘Big Picture’ approach, supporting around 2,500 at-risk students annually.

“We also know that having a curriculum that is relevant and engaging is important. That’s why we put significant investment in through Budget 2021 to establish a curriculum centre within Te Mahau, refresh both the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and launch the new Aotearoa New Zealand Histories curriculum content,” Ms Tinetti said.

“This is a key area to help us shift student progress and achievement, by making schools and kura places where children can see their own values and identity in what they’re learning.

“We know there is no silver bullet to fix school attendance rates. Today’s $88 million funding package provides a suite of targeted measures to ensure there is support in place for students and communities where need is greatest,” she said.

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