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Labour’s truancy crisis is down to Hipkins’ inaction

PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 12 February 2023 -

Labour’s truancy crisis is down to Hipkins’ inaction

In half a decade as Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins proved utterly incapable of turning around plummeting school attendance rates and falling achievement levels, National’s Education spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“Today we hear Mr Hipkins is planning to make an announcement around truancy. That’s just cynical politics in election year from the same old Labour team who have failed to deliver for our children over the past five years.

“Under Mr Hipkins’ watch, regular school attendance fell from 63 per cent in 2017 to just 39.9 per cent in term two of 2022.

“Even more unforgivable is that more than 100,000 Kiwi kids are still chronically absent from school, meaning they are missing three out of every ten days – up from 38,000 in 2017. 7,750 are completely unenrolled altogether – up from 3,000 in 2017.

“Last year when answering questions in Parliament, the former Minister of Education tried to place blame for plummeting attendance rates on the community-based attendance services, working with some of the hardest-to-reach young people, stating that they were not performing.

“Rather than blaming others, the new Prime Minister needs to accept responsibility for his own inaction during his five years as Minister of Education that has meant so many Kiwi kids have become disengaged from education. There is no better evidence of the dire consequences of this than the spike in youth crime and ram raids.

“Labour is still sitting on last year’s Term 3 attendance data, despite saying they would release it before Christmas. This is critical information that is needed in real time – not six months late, just so it can be released alongside an announcement in an election year.

“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.

“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.”


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