Schools praised as truancy rates drop
Fewer Southland pupils skipped class last year, and truancy officers praised schools for their proactive approach to attendance.
Both the Invercargill Student Support Network and the Southern Rural Education Activities Programme reported a downward trend in truancy, which they credit to the hard work of school staff.
Southern Rural Education Activities Programme attendance and alternative education officer Malcolm Dunn, who works with schools in central and eastern Southland, said truancy rates had been tracking down in rural schools for a few years.
Schools were using innovative anti-truancy techniques, including texting parents when pupils did not turn up to class, he said.
He believed lower truancy rates could also help young people stay out of the court system.
Data by the Ministry of Education shows the number of completed "non-enrolled" truancy cases - where pupils left a school and were not enrolled in another within 20 days - dropped from 32 in 2011 to 19 in Southland last year.
The Invercargill Student Support Network's district truancy service, which deals with frequent truants from 46 schools in Southland, received only 35 referrals in 2012, down from 57 referrals in 2011.
Support network director Lois Conway said schools were being more proactive towards to truancy.
They were working hard to engage pupils in school activities and programmes, which had kept attendance levels up, she said.
The Southland Times