"Lost children" still an issue
The number of children being referred to the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service illustrates the need for a central records database for school aged children, Labour education spokesperson Trevor Mallard said today.
The database was recommended by the Education Select Committee in its 1995 Children at Risk report but has been ignored by successive National Ministers of Education.
However the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS), which was established as a sop, has received more than 3000 referrals this year alone. At the end of the third term, 760 cases were continuing and 148 had been closed without being resolved.
"That's a staggering number and shows the need to keep better track of children within the school system," Trevor Mallard said.
"Some of those a children will be lost to the school system, possibly forever. Their lack of schooling will make them more likely to move into criminal and other anti-social behaviour.
"Labour will establish a central records database which will be used to 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, and it will enable a new school to have speedy access to a child's assessment records.
"I am also interested in investigating the options of linking it also to records held by other government agencies such as the Immigration Department.
"Under such a system, I hope that we will never have to close a case without knowing where the child was," Trevor Mallard said.