(National Party media release)

New Zealand has a truancy crisis as new figures show almost 40 per cent of students did not attend school regularly in term four of 2020, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Given there has been a serious fall in regular attendance at schools over the past five years, excuses that the latest figures are a result of Covid-19 don’t wash.

“Nor can the fall in attendance be blamed on older students for whom school is not compulsory. Worryingly, since 2015 there has been an increase in primary school students who are absent from class.

“Reports show that there has been a decline in our maths achievement and as a country we’re falling off the pace internationally. There are debates around the best way turn this around, whether it’s our curriculum or teaching methods that are contributing to the problem.

“But there’s one thing there can be no debate on, we can’t improve our educational achievement and turn around our declining standards in foundational subjects if our kids are not at school.

“Being away from school holds back learning progress. The research is unequivocal that every day of school missed will harm student achievement.

“The Government needs to start sending a clear message to parents, it’s your job to get your kids to school. It’s time as well to get Attendance Services working effectively.

“Ministers shouldn’t try and explain away absences as a result of increased sickness. If our children are getting sicker that’s a problem in of itself.

“A good education opens doors for children. It gives them opportunities they otherwise may not have had.

“We need a Government who takes truancy seriously and makes attendance at school its number one priority in education.”

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