Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti says rapid action taken by the Government to improve school attendance rates is working.
“The Government responded quickly to address low attendance rates following the pandemic, by implementing new attendance officers and a $40m programme to back local solutions led by schools and their communities,” Ms Tinetti said.
“Regular school attendance is moving in the right direction which is exactly what we need to be seeing.”
Term 1 2023 saw regular attendance improve to 59.5% – an increase of almost 10% from the end of 2022.
“Nearly all full time and part time attendance officers are now in place, with 80 already working in schools across the country,” the Minister said.
“Attendance officers work with students who have low or declining attendance rates, to ensure they are going to school every day unless they are sick. It’s expected these attendance officers will help make a real difference to attendance rates over the longer-term.”
The new attendance officers are employed by Attendance Services and are in addition to 275 staff who work with chronically absent students for Attendance Service providers around Aotearoa.
“Another initiative, the Regional Response Fund, has funded 412 initiatives across 762 schools over the past year to help get kids back to school,” Ms Tinetti said.
“The previous iteration of the fund, which was rolled out to re-engage young people during the pandemic, initially supported 2,000 schools, kura and early learning services and 300,000 young people with things like additional teacher and teacher aide time to provide mentoring and academic catch-up, as well as engaging with whānau.
“There can be many reasons why attendance rates fall. That’s why it’s so important that schools come up with their own ideas that work for their communities, which the Government can then help support through this fund. There’s no easy fix and the answer is about tailoring help to the child and their whānau.
“Schools have really thought hard about what works for their students.”
Minister Tinetti said the first $10m of the Regional Response Fund had been successfully invested and schools were being encouraged to come up with new ideas for future years.
“In Auckland for example the fund is supporting Te Kaiarahi Te ao Māori’s work mentoring youth offenders. So far, they have had four intakes and six full days of mentoring sessions.”
“In Porirua and Tawa, the local schools have worked together to focus on re-engagement and transitioning of students through intermediate and into secondary school.
“Over the last three school terms, there have been consecutive increases in regular attendance. There is still work to do and a way to go to reach our targets, but I’m optimistic we’ll get there and confident things are moving in the right direction,” she said.