Period poverty could be to blame for number of girls missing school

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Friday, 1 February 2019, 8:02a.m.
The numbers are from the Ministry of Education and show only 42 per cent of year 13 girls were showing up to class regularly. Photo / Getty Images

A principal says cracking down on truancy won't stop the worst offenders, after new figures revealed one-third of students are missing a month or more of school per year.

The numbers are from the Ministry of Education and show only 42 per cent of year 13 girls were showing up to class regularly. 

Canterbury's Darfield High School principal, James Morris says some students go through a phase of adolescent disengagement, which can be sorted out by dragging them back to school.

He told Kate Hawkesby all the research shows truancy has a huge impact on achievement.

"If you're there at school you're not going to be learning and you're not going to be achieving as well."

Morris said there are a number of reasons why kids skip school.

"Over half is for things like illness and usual things that you would expect, within that though, there is a really concerning and large number of students who are, as you would say chronically truant or chronically away from school, and so that's a significant bunch of students."

"They put that under a category called unjustified absences and for some of those it will be things like, just staying away from school because they thought they could do a better job at home, although, I don't think it's a large number and the bigger concern is those who are just staying away from school because they don't want to be there...they are disengaged from school."

In terms of how to solve this issue, Morris said there isn't a quick fix.

"I don't think there are any simple answers for the chronic truants. For those that are going through a little bit of adolescent disengagement, the truancy services can get in there and drag them back to school."

"But for the chronic truants it is quite a complex issue. Often they will be coming from families who are having all sorts of crises and issues and it might be financial or it might be health or there might be a whole lot of other things going on, so just dragging them back to school won't really address the root of the issue."

He said the year 11 and 12 are more likely to be chronically truant which could be because they are looking after siblings or dealing with period poverty.

"In some families that responsibility does fall on the girls to look after the younger kids while the parents are at work."

"This idea of period poverty as well, so in families that are in financial strain some of these kids just can't afford what they need to get to school."

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