PM Christopher Luxon signals crackdown on parents as Government commits to school attendance 'action plan'

The Prime Minister believes the Government has what it takes to get children back in the classroom as the Coalition knuckles down on its next goals. 

Christopher Luxon unveiled the Government's latest "action plan" on Tuesday, with the focus now shifting to tax relief, health and education targets. 

As part of the education targets, the Government said it would launch an attendance action plan and "introduce the first phase of initiatives" to get more children to attend school. 

With only 46 percent of students attending school regularly, Luxon told AM there needed to be a crackdown on parents. 

"If that carries on, by the time they get to 15, they've lost one whole year of education," Luxon said of New Zealand's school attendance rates. 

"They're not in a great place to be able to make the most of their future so one of the two things we have to do is, firstly, get kids back into school and I think any parent listening after Easter - your job is to... get into those conversations with your young people and actually get them to school - because you care about them and they're going to have a better future if they can get better-educated, and access higher-paying jobs than what you have, as a parent." 

AM host Melissa Chan-Green asked the Prime Minister if putting the onus on parents was part of the action plan. 

"[Associate Education Minister] David Seymour will lead that work for us and there's quite a good amount of thinking that he's already done on the approach that we need to be able to get kids back to school," Luxon said. 

When asked if or how this would be enforced, Luxon said: "Some of it comes out of school, some of it comes out of Government actually regularly monitoring and capturing the data... but a big part of it has to be calling parents to accountability and responsibility in the sense of, as parents, we want our kids to do better than we did, right? 

"A big part of that is getting them educated so they can do that, and the reason we want them educated is so that we can... get New Zealand to be a wealthier place because they   can access higher-paying jobs, right?  

"There'll be a range of measures... because each situation is slightly different to what is causing the non-attendance and we understand that but, certainly, a big piece of it will be calling parents to responsibility and accountability. 

"We've got some great examples of some schools that actually have got very high levels of attendance and have actually found ways through it all, and they're very inspiring and there's lots for us to learn from them as well." 

In addition to the attendance action plan, the Government said it was also making decisions on rolling out "structured literacy" for year 1-3 students, strengthening teacher training, developing "standardised assessment and regular reporting to parents" and introducing legislation to bring back charter schools.