Tukunga pāpāho

Report shows how tough COVID-19 was for children, educators

08 Hui 2023

The Quality Public Education Coalition’s report on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on students shows the need for a systemic overhaul of primary education's funding and staffing models, according to NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter.

The study highlighted the importance of face-to-face learning for tamariki following the periods of lockdown over the last three years and the need for educators to be given more time to develop plans that will help make up for the months of lost learning.

“While our teachers and principals rallied to keep providing high quality teaching and learning during COVID, this research shows the difficulties both teachers and students faced during the pandemic,” Mr Potter said.

“What is more concerning is that the issues that developed during lockdowns are continuing as we return to ‘normal’ life this year.”

Student disengagement, inequity in the system, a drop off in achievement and increased absences from the classrooms were all identified in the report as issues stemming from the pandemic.

Mr Potter said while the researchers acknowledge the report is only offering a snapshot at this stage, the findings are consistent with anecdotal evidence the union is getting from members.

“What it also shows is that we need greater resourcing in our schools – that’s more teachers to lower the student-teacher ratio, greater learning support, more assistance for school leaders, more funding for students with higher needs, and a real look at inequity in the system,” he said.

“Something that also really jumped out at me was the use of the word ‘time’ in many of the responses from educators.

“Teachers and principals need more time to meet increasingly complex work demands to ensure tamariki receive the best education possible, something we have been saying for years.

“What this initial report shows is how much the pandemic exacerbated these issues. We would hope the Government and new Education Minister looks at it, and the independent Pūaotanga review into school staffing, very seriously.”