Porirua school figures on the improve
‘‘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.
School principal Dave Appleyard says he explains to parents the importance of a stable education. Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft