Government launches $74m plan to tackle student truancy

The Government has launched a new plan to get young people back in the classroom by creating more attendance officers to chase up truant children.

"We are going back to basics on attendance," Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced on Tuesday morning.

Tinetti said she knows how important it is for young people to be at school and learning, so the Government is putting "every effort" into making sure they are.

The plan includes:

  • 82 new attendance officer roles established
  • Further investment in the Attendance Service to support over 3000 more young people
  • Commitment to improve and standardise attendance data

The Attendance Service already works with students who are chronically absent or not enrolled, and new officers will work with students with low attendance rates to make sure they go to school every day unless they are sick.

"This $74m package puts resources on the ground to support schools and students and make a difference to attendance rates this year," she said.

"The decline in school attendance began in 2015, but the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. We need to be doing more to help schools and kura support students who are not attending or engaged in education."

This package comes in addition to an $88 million package announced last year, which Tinetti said has already seen results.

"Early intervention with students whose school attendance is falling can make a huge difference," Tinetti said.

She acknowledged this is a "complex issue" that will require parents and the community to fix, however said the Government is committed to doing everything to increase attendance.

"We know that there are many reasons why a child might not show up to school, which is why we're also continuing our initiatives that are focused on removing barriers to education," she said.

Some of those initiatives included free period products, free healthy school lunches, school donations, preventing bullying and redesigning the curriculum.

"These measures will, over time, ensure that young people right across the country are attending, want to be at school and are on the right path to success in their education," she added.