From Penk’s Pen

I recently held a public Education meeting with National MP Erica Stanford, Spokesperson for Education. We talked about the immense pressure that our teachers are facing right now and how they feel they are at breaking point – due to Covid-19, the stress
of managing children who haven’t been at school on a regular basis as well as trying to manage students who are undertaking at-home learning. On top of this, our teachers believe the curriculum is too vague and say they need more concrete detail and direction
on what they’re what they’re actually supposed to be delivering.
Literacy and numeracy rates are dropping every year, not to mention our truancy rates which are now at an appalling 40%. The consistent messaging we’re hearing from school visits is that the single biggest factor of success is ensuring children are present at school. A high number of Principals across the country believe there needs to be an expectation that children are at school, and if not, students should expect to receive a knock on the door asking why they aren’t there.
It’s clear that the Labour government are failing our children.
National says we need to be more prescriptive with our school curriculum, providing better resources for teachers that builds their confidence to teach, including implementation of weekly teaching plans to support their development. We also need higher ambitions for attendance. We believe that the government’s target to improve regular attendance to 70 per cent by 2024 is not ambitious enough. National believes that every day counts and so we should aspire to every child being present at school, which
means we need higher expectations for when they are absent. We also need better teacher training, which includes attracting the best and brightest teachers, but this is challenging when the pay is currently so low. We need better incentives for teachers by remunerating them higher salaries as well as covering the costs of their training.
You can expect to see a strong feature on education in National’s election manifesto, which will outline what we want to do and how we want to set our children up for their futures.
We will also ensure that we have competent ministers who take accountability instead of making excuses.  We need a relentless focus on attendance throughout the education system because we know that education is the strongest tool we have to ensure every child has an equal chance in life to be successful.

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