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Govt to blame for transient kids: Labour

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/05/2016

The problem of thousands of Kiwi children shifting school several times a year is due to the government's failure to address housing shortages, Labour says.

Some school principals have told media more than half the students on their school roll turnover in any given year, causing instability in their learning.

Ministry of Education statistics show almost 3700 students were transient in the 2014 school year, according to the latest available figures on the Education Counts website.

Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins says the constant shifts are having a huge impact on education.

"There are thousands of kids shifting school multiple times in a year due to overcrowding, skyrocketing rents and unaffordable house prices," he said.

Schools were also reporting difficulties recruiting teachers because they couldn't find anywhere to live, he said.

"The average secondary school teacher earns between $46,000 and $75,000 but the median Auckland house price is $812,000.

"Schools are now resorting to buying houses so that they can rent them at below market prices to fill vacancies."

The government continued to "bury their heads in the sand" on the issue, he said.

As part of Thursday's budget, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced that over the next four years, just over $43 million of operating funding will be allocated to schools based on the number of students they have who are at risk of underachieving.

It aims to help about 150,000 children.

Using anonymised data from the Ministry of Social Development, schools with children who have spent a significant proportion of their lives in welfare-dependent families will be identified.

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