ZB

Tim Dower: Is our truancy rate really as bad as the headline might make you think?

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Jun 2022, 10:28am
Photo / Warren Buckland
Photo / Warren Buckland

Tim Dower: Is our truancy rate really as bad as the headline might make you think?

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Jun 2022, 10:28am

The headline says only 60 percent of children are going to school regularly, or put it another way, 40 percent of children aren't going to school regularly.

That sounds pretty bad, until you get down to the actual definition of 'going to school regularly'.

That means turning up for at least nine school days out of every 10, or if you like, missing one day of school every fortnight.

So it's accurate to say only 60 percent of our kids are achieving 90 percent attendance.

Is this the running sore you might think from the basic headline?

Or is it about what you expect? Every parent knows there are some days your kids just don't want to go.

Sometimes they're genuinely sick or sometimes they're just not in the mood and as a parent you make a call on the day.

Do they need just that extra push to get them out the door, or will it actually be better to keep them home for a day?

Anyway, the Government knows best, and it thinks we should be doing better, so there's a new plan to get more of our kids in school more of the time.

All good, nobody thinks it's a smart move to miss out on education.

But let's hope this isn't another case of an expensive, mostly wasteful, broad brush policy.

Let's have some targeting here.

Let's see the energy go into, not the kids who miss the odd day every now and then, but the ones who are really missing out badly.

They're called "chronically absent"; the kids who miss at least three days of school every fortnight.

They to me are the truly truant kids, about one in every 12, and that is a big number.

These are the ones we see walking the streets, hanging out at the park or getting into fights at the mall.

These are the ones we can save from falling into crappy lifestyle choices.

Not the regular teen that just needs a mental health day once in a while.