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Minister wags his truancy responsibilities

Anne Tolley MP
National Party Education Spokeswoman

30 July 2008

Minister wags his truancy responsibilities

With truancy 41% higher than it was when Labour came to office, it defies belief that the Education Minister is clueless about how Labour is dealing with this major issue, says National's Education Spokeswoman, Anne Tolley.

"With 30,000 students absent without leave every week, Chris Carter can't tell me how many frontline officers are fighting truancy, how many truancy prosecutions have been taken, or what performance indicators truancy officers are using to fight the epidemic.

"That the truancy rate has increased from 2.9% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2006 is a damning indictment on Labour's ability to control this problem.

"How can he spend $4.3 million on district truancy services every year and not be able to answer the simplest questions about how that money is being used?

"Labour is all talk on truancy. The previous Minister mused about raising fines for parents of truant children at the beginning of last year, the current Minister agreed last December that it should be considered, but his Ministry has confirmed it has no plans to actually do it.

"Labour says it will reduce truancy by 20% over the next five years. This seems astonishing when Chris Carter can't answer even basic questions on how truancy is being dealt with.

"The Minister's claim that the law prevents reporting of a number of these statistics to the Ministry is just an excuse. A responsible Minister would have changed the law more than a year ago when it was discovered truancy had leapt 41%.

"Every day that a student is absent from the classroom is another day of lost opportunities.

"The Minister must act. By refusing to take truancy seriously he is toying with children's futures."


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