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Number of children wagging schools drops slightly

Waitaki App

RNZ

02 July 2024, 11:08 PM

Number of children wagging schools drops slightlyPhoto: RNZ / Richard Tindiller via RNZ

The number of children wagging school dropped slightly in the first school term this year.


Figures published on Thursday showed justified absences also fell in term one, despite a slight increase in absences due to illness.



The upshot was an uptick in regular attendance from 60 percent in term one last year to 62 percent in term one this year.


The figures showed regular attendance, defined as attending more than 90 percent of school time, improved in all regions except north and West Auckland where it was essentially unchanged at 67 percent.


Regular attendance improved most in Hawke's Bay Tai Rāwhiti, jumping to 59 percent after dipping to just 49 percent last year due to the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.'



Schools with the highest levels of socioeconomic disadvantage had an average regular attendance rate of 42 percent and at those with the least disadvantage it was 74 percent.


The figures showed that slightly more children were off sick in term one this year than in term one last year, but overall the number of justified absences was lower than in 2023.


Unjustified absences also dropped due to a fall in truancy, while absences due to holidays during school time were about the same as in term one last year.


Just 47 percent of Māori students were regular attenders in term one, while the figure for Asian students was 72 percent.


"In Term 1 2024, 47.4 percent of ākonga Māori were attending regularly, an increase of 2.5 percentage points; 50.6 percent of Pacific students were attending regularly, an increase of 3.0 percentage points; 72.0 percent of Asian students were attending regularly, an increase of 1.4 percentage points; and 64.4 percent of European/Pākehā were attending regularly, an increase of 1.6 percentage points."


Considered by year level, Year 13 students had the lowest rate of regular attendance at just 50 percent.


"Overall, the regular attendance rate for primary students increased by 3.0 percentage points to 65.6 percent, while the overall rate for secondary students increased by 1.0 percentage point to 55.2 percent," the report said.


Associate Education Minister David Seymour said the improvement was encouraging.


"We have a truancy crisis across the country and attendance data is a way to show people this," he said.


"We know that for some, there are very real challenges to regular attendance, sometimes beyond their control. The government is looking into what causes truancy with an attendance action plan to help families get students back to school."


Seymour said regular attendance pre-Covid in 2019 was 72.8 percent, and the government had a target of ensuring 80 percent of students were present more than 90 percent of the time by 2030.