Of course you can’t totally blame school students uninterested in being indoctrinated in this government’s neo-Marxism.

Today’s attendance announcement is an underwhelming response from a Government that has presided over a shameful deterioration in school attendance over half a decade, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Today’s announcement shows that Labour has been asleep at the wheel for the past five years while attendance rates have plummeted.

“Under Chris Hipkins’ watch as Minister for Education, regular school attendance fell from 63 per cent in 2017 to just 39 per cent in Term 2 last year, a decline which started well before COVID-19.

“Instead of focusing on improving attendance rates, Mr Hipkins hired an additional 1,500 head office staff at the Ministry of Education. Only now, after five years of decline and under a mountain of political pressure, Labour has found the resources for 82 attendance officers scattered across the country.

“This means that each officer will have to cover 31 schools each – and 10,000 students.

“Today’s announcement is a desperate attempt by Labour’s spin doctors to avoid a bad headline alongside the release of Term 3 attendance data, which shows less than half of kids attended school regularly in Term 3 of last year.

“This morning on Newshub’s AM, the new Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said that releasing the Term 3 data just before Christmas would have appeared cynical.

“What’s even more cynical is holding that critical data for two months so that it can be released alongside an announcement. We need attendance data in real-time – not six months late.

“National would hold ourselves, schools and parents accountable for ensuring that kids are regularly in school, including setting clear expectations for schools and parents that kids not going to school is no longer an option.

“As a start, National would ensure that the Ministry of Education publishes better data in real-time and that every school’s data is published online every term.

“Attendance is a complex problem that needs smart, individualised solutions. We will shift resources from back-office bureaucrats in Wellington to the frontline, so schools have the support they need to give every child the opportunity to benefit from a world-class education.”