Education Minister Chris Hipkins 'pleased' by 80 percent school attendance rate on Monday

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says children's return to education has been "very encouraging" with an average 80 percent attendance rate at schools on Monday.

"As at 10:30am this morning we had 209,759 students reported via the daily attendance survey as attending school," he says.

For early childhood education (ECE), there was an average attendance rate of 53 percent.

"We had 36,780 children reported as attending an early learning service," Hipkins adds.

He expects it's going to take a few days for numbers to build up again to what they were pre-lockdown.

"It's been a very busy morning for schools and early learning services so it's not surprising that the response rate at 10:30am was still quite low, with only around 860 schools and around 1400 early learning services completing the survey.

"But I think it would be fair to say that's a reasonable sample size and the overall trend numbers are likely to be similar across the rest of the system.

"The numbers are very encouraging and we're very pleased to see the vast majority of parents sending their kids back to school."

Hipkins also says there was a shortage of ECE teachers going into COVID-19 response and the Government doesn't want to lose any registered teachers in New Zealand as the economy dips.

In order to help educational services during this period, he has announced ECEs are getting $278.2 million from Budget 2020 in a bid to increase the number of fully qualified and registered teachers. 

It follows Budget 2020's $320 million investment in early learning, including $151.1 million to boost the pay of some 17,000 qualified ECE teachers - bringing the overall investment in ECE to half a billion dollars.