What’s in the attendance action plan?

Strategies for raising attendance have been announced by Associate Education Minister David Seymour and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

Following the announcement of government public service targets, Associate Education Minister David Seymour and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon have revealed the first stages of their Attendance Action Plan (AAP).  

Early last week, Luxon announced nine public service targets, one of which was to get 80 percent of students to regular school attendance by 2030. In a follow-up conference, Seymour stated that New Zealand was an “outlier” with school attendance and outlined their plan to address truancy.  

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Seymour said that attendance initiatives would be “data driven” with weekly releases of school attendance data. Seymour drew parallels between this approach to attendance and the previous government’s approach to Covid-19.  

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Seymour also revealed there would be “locally delivered but nationally coordinated” social media campaigns on the importance of attendance, targeting young people.  

Public health guidance will soon be released on whether students should stay home or go to school based on symptoms, following the UK example, said Seymour.  

“Not every ailment means you should not attend school. What parents need is clear information from the government to help them make that decision,” said Seymour.  

In the medium term –  Phase Two of the AAP – the public can expect “more detailed” plans to be released on getting the “best value” from attendance services, priorities for school boards, attendance-lifting strategies for schools following the example of successful New Zealand models and a traffic light system.  

The traffic light system for attendance will include a green setting where students are attending regularly, an orange setting where some attendance issues have been identified and will be addressed at a school-board level, and a red setting where persistent non-attendance will be dealt with by the Ministry of Education.  

Associate Education Minister David Seymour says the focus is on messaging around the importance of attendance. Photo: AdobeStock by Robert Peak.

Seymour emphasised that fines for students in the red setting will be applied “not in the case of ‘can’t’, but a matter of ‘won’t’.” 

The final part of the AAP announced by Seymour involves understanding “why education is not being valued,” and will be a long-term outlook.  

Phase Two and Three of the AAP have not been finalised, clarified Seymour, meaning there is no concrete agreement on the finer details of the traffic light system. However, the “overall direction” has been agreed upon. 

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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