Why 29,000 kids wag school every day

Few parents prosecuted over truancy
Sunday Star Times 22 April 2012
The government’s promise to crack down on truants and convict their parents has fallen flat, with just a few convictions in the past two years. The revelation comes as a poll shows the public supports stiffer penalties for parents. Labour says the Government’s attempt to tackle truancy by throwing millions of dollars at the issue has failed. The Ministry of Education funded the prosecutions of just 15 parents of truant children last year, despite 29,000 students being absent on any given day. A further eight parents were prosecuted for failing to even enrol their children. Figures released under the Official Information Act reveal 2300 children are missing from the school system through long-term truancy or failing to enrol. The number of “missing” students remains unchanged since 2010, when the Government poured millions of dollars into getting children back in class. At the time, then Education Minister Anne Tolley slammed Labour for failing to address the issue, and promised the Government would “get tough on truancy”.


3 comments for “Why 29,000 kids wag school every day

  1. Andrew McIntosh
    22 April 2012 at 4:25 am

    Another consideration is that there are students who don’t attend in spite of their parents best efforts and as well as others community groups.

    I know of one family where their child whas simply not getting up to go to school because they were having sleeping problems; sleeping in often until mid-day even with appropriate medication.

    The parents were not able to physically intervene to get their child to get out of bed. The school social worker would turn up but because the child would not get into the car had to leave.

    Last year their attendance was 53%. After CYFS involvement the child agreed to attend improve their attendance this year. The child still wakes late and has missed the first and second period most days.

    The mother then drives them child to school and signs them in each day. The school has now served a RAAYS 3 & 4 letter (at the parents request) and this has resulted in a further family group conference.

    In this case I would suggest that it is not a case of the parents not taking an interest, rather it is more to do with the child learning to take responsibility. The law as it currently stands appears to lay all the blame at the parents feet and tougher sentencing won’t make that situation better.

  2. jo hingston
    22 April 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t think this is why kids wag school. This is why parents aren’t prosecuted for their kids wagging school.
    When I was a student many decades ago, I was delighted when those kids that didn’t want to come to school, didn’t come. It meant the rest of us got to learn something that day.

    It’s my understanding that teachers/schools are funded for the students on their rolls? Logically therefore, if a disruptive enrolled kid doesn’t come to school, more funds are available to spend on the kids who actually want to be there.
    I think if a truancy officer rounded up twenty wagging kids, took them into a classroom and attempted to teach them for a day, an alternative solution to forcing them to go to school might be quickly considered.
    This is hardly a solution, I know. I’m just throwing some pre-coffee thoughts into the mix.

  3. Helen Johnstone
    22 April 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Andrew, there are a few circumstances where parents try hard, but are unable to make a difference, and that should be considered on an individual basis. However the majority of cases the parents probably don’t see school and learning as a priority, so don’t instill those values into their children. The focus has been on keeping pupils in school, but there will always be some who are better off working (& learning work ethics) rather than disrupting classroom full of children who actually do want to learn

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