Fuseworks Media

School Attendance, school lunches and bus transport – is there a link?

The President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF), Leanne Otene, says policies to reduce funding for Ka Ora Ka Ako (lunch in schools) and to remove school transport subsidies are completely at odds with goals to increase school attendance and school achievement.

“I was dumbfounded to learn that cuts would be made to Ka Ora Ka Ako because providing school lunches gave our young people the opportunity to learn and grow, and now we are told that bus transport subsidies are to be removed for school students as well,” she said.

 “How will that help attendance and achievement? There is simply no logic to that sequence of arguments,” said Otene. 

To lift school attendance, Associate Minister Seymour [during the election campaign] was ambitious to centrally collect and publish attendance data. He also wanted to introduce a Ministry of Education run fines system for the parents of truants, but has altered that position saying he will not fine parents of truant kids if the family can’t afford it but will target higher-income earning parents whose children are absent from school.

“The Minister wants to establish an Attendance Action Plan,” said Otene. “My suggestion would be if you want actions to increase attendance, then reinstate and expand Ka Ora Ka Ako and don’t remove transport subsidies to make it harder for young people to get to school.” 

“It would help enormously if the Associate Minister would first discuss these issues with school leaders who could apply their experience to assisting and advising on what can usefully make a difference,” said Otene. 

 

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