Tackling truancy needs to be prioritised, says National

New Zealand’s truancy crisis is only going to get worse if schools aren’t required to submit their attendance data, says National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith.

Data released to National shows a third of Kiwi kids aren’t regularly attending school, with the Party claiming the situation is even worse for decile 1 students where not even half are making it to class frequently.

“New Zealand’s appalling attendance rate threatens the learning progress of our kids,” says Goldsmith.

“But this isn’t even the full picture, because 70 schools didn’t submit any attendance data last year. We won’t know the full scale of the problem and who needs additional support if schools don’t provide the information.

“Attendance at school and student achievement are directly linked. We will never turnaround our slide down the international rankings in maths, english and science if we don’t make headway on our growing truancy crisis.

“Kids cannot learn if they’re not in the classroom. Our truancy crisis has impacted all deciles and age groups since 2015. However it is concerning primary and low decile schools are overrepresented in the 70 schools.

“Requiring all schools to submit their attendance data is a simple first step in the hard work required to tackle our truancy crisis. Making sure kids attend school regularly should be its number one priority.”

Meanwhile, National also came put this week to insist the Government implements ‘a standardised way to measure progress to make sure no children fall through the cracks’. 

Goldsmith says, “We need a standardised measure of progress to identify those students who might need additional help and to make sure they get that help.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has previously insisted the curriculum provides these clear measures, but advice from his own officials doesn’t back that up.

“Labour abolished National Standards with no alternative or plan to measure student progress. We’re now in situation where we don’t know ‘when to worry’ about a student’s achievement.

“A ‘refreshed’ curriculum won’t be available until 2025 which means we’re at risk of a  generation of students going through our school system missing out on the additional support or help they need and could’ve had if we had an adequate way to measure progress.

“A good education can see children overcome some of the challenges they face purely because of the circumstances into which they were born.”

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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Lisa Jurlina
Lisa Jurlina
2 years ago

I have been an attendance officer in several schools for the last 20 years. No government has helped with attendance, National had a chance and did nothing, Labour says it is a priority but seems to only want statistics not action

2 years ago

In order to improve outcomes for our learners we need access to the right support. Currently we have far too many learners not getting the additional support they require. So national standards or not we already know who many of these learners are and we already know they are not getting the support they need. There is not enough money or resources put into learning support in our education system. Many students cannot access the curriculum because they don’t have the level of support they need. So instead they choose not to go into classrooms where they know they can’t learn.

2 years ago

I am the attendance office at our school. Unfortunately nothing will change as when students are continuously absent and referred to Attendance Services the parents referred know that there are no consequences for their children not attending school. We have referred many students through to this department, as we are required to do and then nothing happens. The follow up with parents is extremely slow and Attendance Services don’t do anything about those who are continuously absent. We have had parents say it doesn’t matter if their children aren’t attending school because they know there are no consequences for them for their children not regurlarly attending school. We are a rural school and students require parents/caregivers to drop off and pick up so it is solely the parents choosing to not send the children to school, not the children themselves “wagging”. Unfortunately unless this is remedied and actual consequences put in place it will continue to happen and attendances will continue to decline, leading to students not achieving to their best ability. Parents are the ones letting their children down. Our Maori/ Polynesian students are unfortunately the majority of those who are being let down in this instance. They are bright eyed and wanting to learn but their parents/caregivers aren’t allowing them to meet their full potential by not sending them to school.

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