Truancy: Jan Tinetti blames ministry as Newshub reveals only one attendance officer working under new scheme

In an attempt to tackle the truancy crisis, the Government funded 82 new attendance officers.

But Newshub's spoken to a disappointed principal who says the officers' job descriptions are largely to be crunching numbers instead of hitting the streets.

Newshub can also reveal so far only one is working and the minister is fuming.

Principal Cathy Chalmers needs more help.

In the Manurewa area she oversees, 103 students have stopped going to school and 64 of them dropped out just last week.

"I was really excited thinking we'd have another pair of boots on the ground to help with the mahi," she said. 

Chalmers was offered one of the Government's 82 new attendance officers. But after seeing the job description, she was shocked.

"I was disappointed. It wasn't what I thought or had been led to believe that these positions would be."

Newshub's obtained the outline of those positions. A lot of their work will be analsysing data to find 'moderately absent' students, instead of working with chronically absent kids.

"These new attendance officers cannot deal with the difficult cases," Chalmers said.

She turned the attendance officer down.

Education Minister Jan Tinetti said: "That's a shame because the job description does state that there are case load ability, to be able to have case loads there so that's exactly what she wants". 

The release of Term 3's attendance data, which showed only 46 percent of students were attending school regularly, was delayed by the Education Minister's office for two months.

In that time, Tinetti went to her Cabinet colleagues and told them urgent action was needed.

"It is urgent, we know that we have got an issue around attendance. We need to get the resources in front of our young people now," she said.

The $73 million attendance package was so urgent in fact it didn't get the usual checks and balances.

The Cabinet paper reveals the Treasury and the Education Review Office were advised of the paper but did not have time to comment.

The plan was to have the attendance officers start in Term 2. It's Term 2 now and Newshub can reveal just 19 contracts have been signed and only one officer has started work.

"I am absolutely frustrated that we only have one in place at the moment. I am very disappointed in that," Tinetti said.

"I have had constant discussions with my officials. There seems to be excuses all the time. I want to see them in schools and I want to see them in front of kids right now."

National's education spokesperson Erica Stanford said the policy was "rushed". 

"It has been poorly rolled out but the only person to blame for all of that is Jan Tinetti herself."

Tinetti, an under pressure minister blaming her ministry while principals like Cathy just want help.