According to an article in the NZ Herald, there is one truancy officer for 80 schools in Waitemata East. The details are contained in a police truancy overview for the Waitemata District obtained by the Herald from July last year. It found that just under two-thirds of students – 62 per cent in 2019 – regularly attended school in the district, and unjustified absences, which had increased each year, were 3.9 percent in 2019. Such absences tended to make young people more likely to commit crime, the report said, and were a factor contributing to street gang membership.

National’s Paul Goldsmith said truancy services were “woefully under resourced”. That would be the understatement of the year. He said schools are supposed to refer students who are not turning up to truancy services so they can chase them up, but schools often don’t. I’m not surprised. It’s an exercise in futility. According to the educational statistics, there were 282,926 students in the Auckland region last year. If my maths, never a strong point, is correct, that means on any given day approximately 11,000 students are not at school for unjustified reasons.  In 2019 there were 553 schools in the Auckland region. On average each school had just under 20 students not attending on any given day.

Let’s get back to the obviously overworked truancy officer in the Waitemata District. That officer has 80 schools on his books with nearly 20 students missing at each one daily. 20 x 80 = 1,600 students to chase up each day between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. That’s 267 per hour or 4 per minute. If a similar scenario is played out across the country you can see why schools don’t bother reporting truants. I have worked as a truancy officer for a school so have some knowledge of what is involved. The basic premise is every school needs a truancy officer. In my school days, that’s how the system worked and that’s what we need to reinstate.

What is Labour’s answer? You guessed it, a review. A review is no more needed than National’s review into why they lost the election. It is no surprise Labour can’t see the answer to the problem. Jan Tinetti, who has suggested a review, also said, “By refreshing our curriculum (e.g. NZ history only taught from 1840), providing lunch and period products in schools, eliminating exam fees (why not the exams as well?), and removing school donations, we are making sure school is interesting and relevant to young people, which will contribute to improved attendance”. This load of verbal BS from a person who spent twenty years as a teacher and a principal. Maybe that explains it.

What a load of socialist claptrap. It’s enough to make you want to curl up into a ball and weep. Is she saying girls turn up at school primarily to use the period products that aren’t supplied at home? Or is it the lunch they’re too lazy to make at home? To cite these as reasons is merely saying that the problem you have is your slavish obedience to your left-wing ideology. There are a number of things that can be done to help solve the truancy problem. First, as is happening, don’t outsource the officers. Every school needs one, employed by the Ministry of Education. As I said in an earlier post, there are plenty of civil servants in middle management shuffling papers who would be more gainfully employed in this area. 

Second, as I also said in my earlier post, paper shufflers could also be employed at WINZ offices, available to the public as a whole, not just those on a benefit. These people could be a point of contact for those struggling or in genuine hardship. They would be available to give budgetary advice and if extra financial help was needed they are in the right place.

Most of those playing truant are from lower socioeconomic groups. The answer to that, as has already been proven, is charter schools. Kids that were failing in the government system achieved and liked being in the charter school environment. But you don’t like them do you Jan? Again you are held hostage by your ideology. Mustn’t upset your union mates who saw charter schools, and not belonging to the hammer and sickle union, as a threat.

The BFD. Cartoon credit SonovaMin

Jan unfortunately will live up to pretty much the rest of her colleagues in the government and achieve nothing. If her utterances are anything to go by, she is either clueless to the real answers or they don’t fit with Marxist ideology. Either way, education under this government, like everything else, is doomed. Meanwhile, the police, who have better things to do with their time, are left to chase truants committing crime and joining gangs. The Minister of Health, who is also the Minister of Education, should realise that, like Covid, education needs an injection, an injection of ideas that will halt the rising truancy numbers and the falling achievement numbers. 

For that to happen, a change in ideology would be required and that’s not likely. We can therefore count on everything continuing to go the wrong way.

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Labour Playing Truant on Education

A right-wing crusader. Reached an age that embodies the dictum only the good die young. Country music buff. Ardent Anglophile. Hates hypocrisy and by association left-wing politics.