Porirua school fig­ures on the im­prove

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA DOONEY

‘‘Chang­ing schools fre­quently makes it harder for chil­dren and young peo­ple to en­gage long-term with ed­u­ca­tion and reach their full po­ten­tial.’’

The num­ber of chil­dren at­tend­ing two or more schools in a year has risen – and a Welling­ton prin­ci­pal says each time it hap­pens a child’s learn­ing can be set back by two or three months.

Data re­leased by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion shows 3907 stu­dents went to two or more schools last year. That’s the high­est num­ber since 2011, when 4889 stu­dents had to move – largely be­cause of the Can­ter­bury earth­quakes.

In 2016, 3399 chil­dren changed schools twice, 431 three times, and 67 were en­rolled in four dif­fer­ent schools.

Ten chil­dren swapped schools five or more times.

North­land had the high­est rate of tran­siency, with nearly 20 in ev­ery 1000 chil­dren chang­ing schools at least twice. Na­tion­ally, Maori stu­dents were the most likely to have their learn­ing dis­rupted by mov­ing school.

In the Welling­ton re­gion, Porirua had the worst rate of tran­siency in 2016, although it im­proved on the two pre­vi­ous years.

A re­cent re­port from Porirua City Coun­cil shows the rate among Maori chil­dren in the city is four times the na­tional av­er­age, and among Pasi­fika about 21⁄ times.

In Lower Hutt, Rata St School prin­ci­pal Dave Ap­p­le­yard said 20 per cent of the roll came and went last year. That did not in­clude new en­trants, or year 6 chil­dren grad­u­at­ing. The school’s roll is 370.

Chil­dren who were up­rooted had to make new friends, and get used to a new school rou­tine and cul­ture, which could of­ten set their learn­ing back by months, he said.

‘‘All that has a nega­tive im­pact on their learn­ing.’’

Fam­i­lies moved due to hous­ing in­sta­bil­ity, to fol­low jobs, or be­cause of fam­ily cir­cum­stances.

When a new stu­dent started at the school and it was clear they had moved around in the past, Ap­p­le­yard would ex­plain to par­ents the im­por­tance of a sta­ble ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘Par­ents don’t dis­agree ... If you’ve got less con­trol of your en­vi­ron­ment and fac­tors im­pact­ing on fam­ily there’s more like­li­hood of a change; that you’ve got to move if you don’t own your own house, or if you’re chas­ing em­ploy­ment.’’

Otaki Col­lege prin­ci­pal Andy Fraser agreed mov­ing schools could be dis­rup­tive, and high school stu­dents could find an NCEA sub­ject they had be study­ing might not be avail­able at their new school.

But most would ‘‘bend over back­wards’’ to help a new stu­dent do the sub­jects they wanted, Fraser said.

Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner An­drew Be­croft said an in­for­mal sur­vey of chil­dren and young peo­ple showed they put school and friends as the most im­por­tant things in their lives, af­ter fam­ily.

‘‘Chang­ing schools fre­quently makes it harder for chil­dren and young peo­ple to en­gage long-term with ed­u­ca­tion and reach their full po­ten­tial, and is of­ten as­so­ci­ated with in­come-re­lated poverty, ma­te­rial dis­ad­van­tage and real de­pri­va­tion.’’

It was con­cern­ing that the fig­ures were par­tic­u­larly high for Maori and Pasi­fika stu­dents, he said.

PHOTO: ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

School prin­ci­pal Dave Ap­p­le­yard says he ex­plains to par­ents the im­por­tance of a sta­ble ed­u­ca­tion. Chil­dren's Com­mis­sioner An­drew Be­croft

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