Time to enforce social obligations for truancy

Rather than abandoning social obligations on beneficiaries to send their children to school we should be enforcing those requirements especially at a time when New Zealand is facing a truancy crisis, National’s Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“There has been an increase in the number of students not enrolled at any school over the past five years. In 2014 there was 7738 unenrolled students, last year that figure increased to 10,960.

“It takes almost 100 days on average to ‘re-engage’ these students at school. Even then, no universal definition of re-engagement exists so we do not really know if these children end up enrolled at a school.

“Attendance at school should be a priority. We should be using the tools we already have available to send a clear message that parents must send their children to school.

“A good education is one of the best routes out of hardship and poverty. It’s only right that we make sure those on benefits have their children enrolled at school and are attending that school regularly.

“While there are some complex reasons for children to be missing school, countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom who also have complex social issues have less truancy than New Zealand.

“The Ministry of Education’s own research tells us that one of the best ways to improve the wellbeing of children is through regular attendance at school.

“For a start, those tasked with turning around our attendance need to be better resourced. We should also be enforcing the social obligations already available to the Ministry of Social Development.

“The time for platitudes and nice statements of intention is over. We need concrete and decisive actions to make sure children are attending school.”