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South Auckland school responds to government’s new attendance action plan

Alakihihifo Vailala, Te Rito Journalism Cadet

Principal and students from Tangaroa College are advocating for more community voice when it comes to implementing changes to increase school attendance rate

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

High school students are advocating for better ways for the government to tackle school truancy.

Tangaroa College students say the recent attendance action plan might deter students from wanting to attend school.

Their comments follow the recent announcement of the government’s launch of nine targets to be delivered by 2030.

Included in the targets is the attendance action plan implementing changes like developing a Traffic Light System and daily reporting of attendance data by 2025.

One student says pressuring kids to attend school everyday might get annoying for some kids and that Covid-19 has affected the way young people value school.

“We’re teenagers. We don’t like to just have someone constantly around us, nagging us to do what we know we’re supposed to do.

“We need to try and give students something more to look forward to educationally. A lot of us students don’t really engage in our work because we’re not learning what we want to learn.”

Another student says many do not enjoy school but agrees that communication with families and the wider community will help.

“There’s students who don’t want to come to school and when they do, they wag [skip class]. So I don’t think having a system like this will work.

“It’s a great idea though to show how important attendance is.”

Amidst the government’s new education targets, Tangaroa College principal Chris Bean is optimistic.

“One form of advice I’d like to give is to get our own attendance insurance officer so that we can have hours in the school setting.

“We can then move into the community and talk with our community and stress the importance of coming to school and supporting us in that space.

“Constant communication, reaching out to families, stressing the importance of being here and why we should be here.”

Bean also raises concerns about the effect the ending of half price public transport fares may also have on attendance rates.

“I don’t think it’s a wise move to take that away because that is one means to reduce a cost which reduces that attendance rate.

“I’d love to see that still in place as it is. It allows our students to get to college, get to school and be in that learning environment.

“We’ve got kids who are working. I’ve got kids who come through the gate a little bit later than usual.

“That’s because they’ve finished a shift at one or two in the morning, gone home for a bit of sleep and then made their way to school.”

Bean says the school works with students with jobs to personalise their school schedules to meet their familial and school obligations.

He says he hopes the free lunches in schools which Tangaroa College is part of continues to be funded as Budget Day approaches.

“I’d like to see funding put into the side of education to support obviously more teachers to increase the resourcing that we have in our space.

“It’s wonderful to know that you can have food for your students. That they can receive a meal for the day.

“It allows them a chance just to come to school and focus on the learning. So I’m hoping they can keep it in place.”

Hero Image: Tangaroa College principal and students Photo/ Alakihihifo Vailala

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