“Truancy is so out of control and our education culture is so poor principals are admitting to literally watching kids skateboard past school on their way to bunk off, we need real change to keep Kiwi kids in school,” says ACT’s Education spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“Today RNZ reported a principal talking about absent students as saying: "We know they're here, we know they're perhaps sometimes skateboarding past the school even, or they've disappeared off our radar but we know they're going to be coming back."

“This shows the extent of the problem, if principals are so bereft of ideas to get kids back in the classroom they’re literally watching them skate past the front gates, then we’re really in trouble.

“It has become acceptable under Minister Hipkins’ neglectful leadership of the sector for principals to not even try to get kids in the classroom.

“Our education system has been declining for years now, Labour’s unaspiring goal of 70 per cent attendance appears to just be wanting to slow the decline rather than turn it around – and they’re failing miserably at even that. We need real change to our education system so we have better outcomes for New Zealand children and ultimately the entire country.

“Children have a wide range of needs and not all of them fit into the same box. That was why ACT’s Partnership Schools were so successful and changed the lives of many children who were struggling to fit into our traditional schooling system.

“They had an incentive to keep kids in the classroom, being specifically contracted to not allow truancy rates above 2.8 per cent. If a Partnership School performed as badly as the average state school on attendance, it would be at risk of closure.

“Having outstanding teachers is often the factor that makes a real difference in children’s lives as well. That’s why ACT would introduce the Teaching Excellence Reward Fund (TERF) to ensure teachers who are making a difference are getting rewarded, and not fleeing to a bigger salary in Australia.

“Our education system is a slow moving disaster that needs real change, not unambitious targets and no ideas how to achieve them.”

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Chris Baillie