South has highest rate of school attendance

Having the highest attendance rates in New Zealand bodes well for Otago and Southland’s future, the Otago Primary Principals’ Association says.

Recently released Ministry of Education data showed Otago and Southland had both the best attendance rates among primary and secondary pupils and the lowest proportion of lateness.

In the region 71.2% of pupils attended school regularly compared with the worst performing region, Northland (Tai Tokerau), where only 55.9% attended regularly.

Otago and Southland also had the lowest percentage, 0.9%, of classes to which students arrived late.

Wellington had the highest level of lateness, at 1.6% of classes, despite having an above average percentage of students attending regularly.

Otago Primary Principals’ Association president Debbie Smith was pleased with the figures and said they boded well for the future prospects of children in the South.

Attendance was hugely important when it came to students’ learning.

She was unsure why Otago and Southland performed better than other areas, but said it was possibly partly because schools were smaller in the South.

At larger schools it was easier for pupils to fall through the cracks.

It could also be that schools were more ‘‘vigilant’’.

The Secondary Principals’ Association secretary, Gordon Wilson, said that many factors contributed to attendance rates.

‘‘It’s always been the case that in the southern part of the South Island that a community values education well,’’ Mr Wilson said.

Most of the factors that contributed to attendance rates had nothing to do with what happened at schools.

This included the socioeconomic status of areas, which came through in Northland having the worst attendance rates.

However, he did believe secondary schools in the South were perhaps more focused on early intervention so non-attendance did not become ingrained.

He believed more needed to be done to improve attendance rates across New Zealand, including in Otago and Southland.


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