14 October 2003
Teachers are missing in truancy announcement
A fundamental point is missing in Hon Trevor Mallard's latest truancy initiative, says Principal of Auckland College of
Education, Dr John Langley. "You can have all of the truancy initiatives in the world but if the kids get back to school
and the quality of teaching is poor why, you might ask, would they bother?"
"I personally applaud the fact that this is recognised as an area of need as it is true that it is critical to keep
students participating in school. But participation isn't enough. You can participate in an epidemic or a war - it
doesn't make them pleasant or worthwhile experiences. My fear is that this kind of approach is seen as ‘fixing’ the
problem," said Dr Langley.
"The secret to solving truancy is a true partnership between the home and school where the home encourages and supports
learning and where the school provides the very best possible teaching by the very best possible teachers. Anything less
than that is just smoke and mirrors.
"The Minister talks about making sure students 'stay engaged in learning' but only teachers can do that. The wider issue
of quality of teachers impacting on learning will help or hinder almost any other plan to improve our education system.
This of course raises the thorny issues of improving the status of teachers and their professional environment, not to
mention the current mess and variable quality of New Zealand’s teaching qualifications - which - it's hoped, is just as
high on the Government's priority list."