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Government to strengthen truancy service

5 December 2006

Government to strengthen truancy service

The government will invest an additional $2 million over the next four years to strengthen the District Truancy Service, Education Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

The extra funding is the result of a year-long review, which looked at ways to make the service more effective in helping schools to reduce truancy.

"The government expects all children to regularly attend school until they are at least sixteen," Steve Maharey said. "The changes we are making will ensure truancy services can focus on what they do best - getting children back to school.

"A sharpening of their role will be supported by better information to schools and parents, as well as an improved process for referrals to other agencies where needed.

"A new funding model will ensure the service is more responsive to local needs, taking into account factors such as the school-aged population, local truancy rates and decile rating. Funding contracts will also be extended from one to three years to provide more certainty for services.

"Extra funding will be directed to areas where the need is greatest, for example Counties Manukau, which will receive an additional $150,000 a year to support local efforts to reduce truancy.

"The new service will comprise around 75 local providers, based around territorial local authorities. This will require a number of the current 112 local services to amalgamate over time, although funding levels for existing services will not be reduced.

"The changes reflect feedback from schools, truancy services and communities seeking a more transparent funding model, a clearer definition of the role of the service and more stable funding arrangements."
Steve Maharey said the government was investing around $10 million a year in programme to reduce truancy rates and ensure children stay at school including:

- Extending a pilot programme which encourages schools to prosecute the parents of persistent truants - programmes in South Auckland, the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa have resulted in over 50 percent of students whose parents have been prosecuted returning to regular attendance
- A web-based ENROL system - which quickly alerts the Ministry of Education to students who are not enrolled, so they can be back to school as soon as possible.

ENDS

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