“Failures right across the board have contributed to the truancy crisis in New Zealand, it will take real change and real responsibilities to get kids back in class,” says ACT’s Education spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“The Ministry of Education is effectively flying blind with little in the way of attendance data. Written Parliamentary Questions show they’ve allocated $16.5 million to attendance services but don’t know how many attendance officers there are and have not received any truancy data from 108 schools.

“Where is the accountability? It appears the money is shovelled out the door and then the Government forgets about it.

“There seems to be no appetite to change this. I asked Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti whether the Government was concerned that 108 schools chose not to share attendance data and if she was considering requiring them to share it in 2023. Apparently this “isn’t on the current work programme.”

“I asked the Minister if this lack of information is good enough. Despite her assertions of having a “razor-sharp focus”, it’s difficult to see how this can be the case when she isn’t even across the data.

“As well as not collecting the data, the Government is failing to use its existing powers. WPQs show that only one family has been handed a fine for their children’s truancy in five years under S244 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

“The Government already has the power to address parents of truants, the problem is that no one in the Government appears willing to actually do anything.

“Step one to solving the truancy crisis is actually getting an idea of the problem at hand by collecting data and using the existing resources at the Government’s disposal. Labour is failing that. Step two is coming up with practical solutions to address the problem. Only ACT gets a pass mark in that department.

“ACT says schools should receive funding based on attendance, as was the case previously for charter schools. This provides a greater incentive for schools to ensure kids are in the classroom than the current enrolment-based funding system.

“ACT has more solutions for the truancy crisis that we will be announcing soon.”

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