Strictly turn up and pay up

Pupils and parents at Wakatipu High School beware - it's a new year with a new principal and a tough new stance.

Wakatipu High School's principal Steve Hall is taking a hard line on truancy and school fees.

A five-page school newsletter outlining the school's expectations in 2013 was sent home to parents last week and the consequences for non-compliance are clearly outlined.

"We are informing people of our key priorities so people know what's important to us as we start the school year . . . and what they can do to support us," Mr Hall, who started at the school in September, said.

Truancy had become a problem and staff were united in the desire to improve student achievement by introducing new policies which ensured pupils were at school when they should be.

"You can't learn if you're not in class," he said.

The new attendance policy would see pupils disciplined for unexplained absences with punishments which include detentions, exclusion from privileges such as the formal and even graduation.

"If you go through the escalation process and you refuse to toe the line . . . the ultimate disciplinary action is that you could be stood down from school."

Parents, caregivers and pupils also had a role to play in tackling the issue and could face criminal charges, Mr Hall said.

The school is clamping down on school fees and has asked those who can afford the fee to pay up.

Wakatipu High School receives the lowest amount of funding from the Government because of its Decile 10 rating. Therefore, the school heavily relies on parents paying voluntary donations and school fees. School donations are set at $150 per pupil.

While donations were voluntary, fees were not and the school planned to be thorough in the charging of and recovery of fees.

"This is likely to include that students who have not paid required fees will be unable to participate in certain activities and/or trips."

While the school planned to take a hard line, Mr Hall said there would always be exceptions and there were policies in place to cater to those unable to afford the costs.

"We do have people in the community who give money anonymously to support kids and pay for uniforms etc . . . we need to grow that spirit here."

The Mirror