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National's truancy talk, just that, all talk

24 June 2005

Minister: National's truancy talk, just that, all talk

The government has a comprehensive truancy reduction initiative in place and National's late interest in the issue is risible, says Education Minister Trevor Mallard.

Mr Mallard pointed to the Ministry of Education's Student Engagement Initiative (SEI) – an $8.6 million package of initiatives that started in 2004. The SEI includes: a development and pilot of a streamlined truancy prosecution process for parents who support or condone their children’s non-attendance; the early notification of absence through text message and email; a new student management system for tracking re-enrolling students; working with individual schools to reduce high early leaving exemption and non attendance rates; the improvement of systems to place excluded students back into school; and a review of the District Truancy Services (DTS) provision and funding.

Trevor Mallard noted that the government also funds a range of alternative educational pathways, including: $20 million to fund alternative learning settings and courses for students who are disengaged; 14 activity centres funded to support students who are at risk of disengaging from education; and 16 teen parenting units (in 1999 there was one).

"We also have a suspension reduction initiative which is a targeted programme for schools with relatively high rates of suspension aimed at reducing exclusion and suspension. The funding for the suspension reduction initiative is $1.1 million per annum. "The Government is committed to ensuring students are not lost or alienated from the education system," said Trevor Mallard. "It is important that students at risk of failure are supported in a comprehensive way.

"Meanwhile, what is National's policy? They don't have one, as Ms Collins herself admitted yesterday."

ENDS

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