Falling education standards an economic crisis in waiting

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Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown says statistics show the country’s numeracy, literacy and truancy rates are falling. Times file photo
  • By Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga

Recent statistics released from the New Zealand Initiative about the state of our education system, including numeracy, literacy and truancy rates, paints a concerning picture that will have parents across the country worried about their children’s future.

The recently-released results of an NCEA pilot study that assessed the abilities of students in Year 9-10 in reading, writing and numeracy standards showed a higher-than-expected failure rate across all three categories.

Almost two-thirds of students who sat the writing test failed, while around a third of the students who sat the reading and maths tests failed.

In an increasingly competitive world, a top-notch education system is key to ensuring New Zealand can remain economically relevant on a global scale.

But under this government, standards are clearly slipping. And despite claims that this pilot isn’t representative of Kiwi students, it’s backed up by last year’s NCEA results, which showed literacy and numeracy attainment dropping significantly from the previous year.

To make matters worse, truancy rates are growing rapidly as well with around 40 per cent of students not attending school on a regular basis, a number that has increased by around 50 per cent since Labour took over in 2017.

It’s no wonder so many kids aren’t doing well at school. It’s hard to learn when you’re missing dozens of school days each year, and that’s time our children can’t get back later.

We’re incredibly lucky in Pakuranga to have some of the best schools educating our children, including Macleans College, which was named top secondary school for the fourth year running in a recent report released by Crimson Education NZ.

It’s easy for us in east Auckland to forget that most kids don’t have access to the same world-class education offered by our local schools.

The Government simply must do more to raise the quality of teaching across the country and ensure kids are actually going to school and coming away with a meaningful education.