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Truancy Database Absent Too Long

Monday 24 May 2004

Truancy Database Absent Too Long

Deborah Coddington - Press Releases - Education

ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington today supported Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft's call for a national truancy database to reduce youth offending.

"Judge Becroft's comments at the New Zealand Principals' Conference in Rotorua at the weekend are welcome. There is no doubt that youth crime is the inevitable counterpart to long-term truancy," Miss Coddington said.

"Let's be absolutely clear about this: our kids are getting themselves into more and more serious trouble because we are allowing them to completely drop out of school.

"Earlier this year, I revealed that of 6,499 children referred to the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS) last year, 244 could not be found. It is too easy for a child to drop out of one school and never enrol in another. The next time we'll see that kid is in court.

"When in Opposition, Education Minister Trevor Mallard - in a 1999 media release - promised to create a national database to find children not in school when he said:

`Labour will establish a central records database which will be used for schools to pass information on as children move around. It will be able to show quickly when a child leaves a school without re-enrolling at another'.

"The Education Select Committee urged the Government to establish a truancy database in 2002. Mr Mallard's meek response was to set up a trial data network to track students through the school system next year. That's as bad as doing nothing.

"Today's truants will continue to clog the court and welfare systems. One huge part of the solution is to implement a central database as soon as possible," Miss Coddington said.

ENDS

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