Ministry of Education data provided voluntarily by 2184 schools for Term 2 last year showed one in five children missed the last day of term and the lowest attendance was on Fridays and Mondays. Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin says it's not a good look and improvement must be made. "That Friday, that child might miss the connecting piece to the next piece of learning which puts them behind their peers - it's important," she told. "Every day that school is open, children should be at school - it's the message we send to children about how important their education is." Greenmeadows Intermediate School principal Cathy Chalmers says regular attendance has been declining at her Manurewa school for the last five years. Students can only miss four days of school a term to maintain regular attendance. "It's becoming more common for parents to take advantage of cheaper airfares to take holidays during term time," Ms Chalmers says. "If it's a long weekend we have a much higher number of students away on the Friday of the long weekend as parents take advantage to get away early."
Ms Chalmers says students who don't attend school regularly don't have the opportunity to have consistency in their learning, which is needed to maintain achievement levels. The data showed 58 per cent of students attended school regularly, compared to 64 per cent in 2018, and 70 per cent in 2015. "Three-quarters of justified absence cases were reportedly due to illness. Just over half of unjustified absence cases were recorded truancies or unable to be explained," a data summary from the Ministry of Education states. "Although regular attendance has declined across all demographics since 2015, the largest declines have been seen across year levels 1-8 and among Māori and Pacific students." All schools will be asked to record attendance data for the whole year to build a better understanding of the issue. In the meantime, the Government has announced a pilot programme for Kawerau and South Auckland, which sees groups of schools have control over how to deal with truancy in their areas, including the ability to hire local attendance officers. The decision to change from district attendance officers to contracted providers was made under the previous Government in 2013. Ms Chalmers says having the contracted organisation not based in the community was an issue, so she supports the new pilot structure.
"It just makes that direct link between schools and the families. It will help build relationships with those families," she says. "Schools will have ownership over the delivery of the attendance service, which perhaps currently we don't have as much as what we'd like to have." The pilot has started in Kawerau and will start in April in South Auckland, running through until December 2021. "This will allow time to collect good information. A full evaluation will be undertaken during 2021.
Who loves Hot Cross Buns? Nothing beats the smell of a freshly toasted hot cross bun, but as Easter this year will be spent in coronavirus lockdown and your favourite bakery or cafe is closed, we've put together a list of some of the best spices buns you can find or if you're feeling adventurous why not make them.
My personal favourites are from Daily Bread. What's your favourite thing about Easter?
Hey neighbours, it was great to see so many of you at our live lunch with NZ Home and Garden and NZ Gardener editors Naomi Larkin and Jo McCarroll. Thanks for stopping by :)
If you missed it, you can still drop in for a recap and see if Jo and Naomi answered your questions, here.
We were lucky!
Over the weekend of 14/15 March, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary at NZSFW and 10 days later, New Zealand ground to a halt in the Covid19 Lockdown.
And while our day to day life has dramatically changed, looking at all these photos gives me a lot of pleasure and especially to be able to share in the achievements of our current students and graduates. The highlight has to be the magnificent dinner; an inspired menu created by our gifted chef, Finn Gybel and prepared under his watchful eye by the cookery students.
Fortuitously, the lamb arrived fresh from Pigeon Bay via Harris Meats in North Canterbury and after a number of dramas leaving us worried that it would in time. Finn's dish, where he wrapped the lamb in crepinette, to hold it together while cooking, was certainly a new technique that we had not used in the past.
It was a thrill to have veteran broadcaster, Carol Hirschfeld as MC for the dinner and lend her distinctive and thoughtful commentary to our story. Carol asked me who she could "interview" during the dinner. Victoria Biddick, our first enrolled student from 1995, Oliver Hay and Joelle Thomson all shared their unique perspective on their association with the school.
There is certainly some irony in the fact that as we were celebrating these 25 years, another significant challenge was about to explode. Drawing on my earthquake experience, where we relocated our students to my second business at the Duvauchelle Store and Café, I knew that we had to find a way to keep going.
As the Covid19 crisis escalated, I discussed with our tutors how we could teach the programmes online and with the cookery students cooking in their own kitchens at home. Again, I was fortunate that my son Oliver, computer systems engineer, and recently returned from his super yacht chef sojourn, decided that he wanted to work full-time at NZSFW. Oli then set about finding the best platform for the tutors to stream their classes live and to administer the programmes. We have used Google Classroom and the Hangouts conferencing software to do this and it's working well.
By Friday 20 March, we had amended our cookery timetables to focus on baking, pasta and dishes that were easier to prepare at home. The students then went home with a 5kg bag of flour, 2 kg sugar, 1kg butter, 12 eggs and other ingredients. We trialled the video streaming from NZSFW while we could and then following the lockdown, the tutors now continue from their homes. The logistics are much easier for Franck with his hospitality students!
For the cookery students, the model is they watch the demonstrations at home and later upload photographs of their cooking. It's not ideal, as the tutor cannot taste their food and sometimes the livestream is pixellated or cuts out but it's better that doing nothing. Plus, everyone gets to chat and socialise from the safety of their bubble. And with supermarkets open, we can continue to buy supplies. View Foundation cooking shots here. And Advanced Cooking here.
Stay safe and have fun,