The headmaster of a leading Auckland school says parents of children who repeatedly wag class should be prosecuted.
His comments come after Ministry of Education figures showed that only 58 percent of students in the country attend school regularly, down from 68 percent in 2018.
Tim O'Connor, headmaster of Auckland Grammar School, says the Government needs to do more to hold the parents of those not going to school accountable.
"I would want to deal with those parents who are repeat offenders - and by repeat offenders I'm not saying the odd Friday or the odd early holiday, I'm talking about those parents who actually their sons or their daughters are not turning up to school on a day-by-day basis - they need to be prosecuted," O'Connor told The AM Show on Monday.
He said parents should "absolutely" be put in front of the courts if they fail to ensure their children attend class.
"They are actually cutting off their son or daughter's future. Full stop."
In announcing the data earlier this month Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said the data showed an increase in absences on Mondays, Fridays and on the last day of term.
At Auckland Grammar any parent seeking that their child be allowed time off class for any reason - such as a family holiday - needs to give him a good reason, O'Connor said.
"Parents know that if they want to take their son out during term time then they need to make that request directly at me," he said.
"A parent can do whatever they like, let's face it, I'm not going to chase them to the airport. If they want to take their son away then I tell them the consequence of that, and that is the impact on their son's learning. We also have exams at the end of each term and so boys just get zero."
Although he admitted that "there are always circumstances" for students to take time off, such as sporting tournaments, when it comes to families pulling out their children to go on holiday, there was no excuse.
"There are good reasons for being away from school," O'Connor said. "But the thing I would say to parents is, the school year is short."
There are plenty of holidays throughout the year, he said -"do your family things in those times".