March 03, 2023
New think needed on school attendance
With the Government putting $74 million into tackling school attendance, the head of a Christchurch-based Māori youth and community organisation says new thinking is needed about getting kids back to school.
Jono Campbell from Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi says changes in 2013 to the way attendance was measured means there hasn’t been good data for a decade about why kids aren’t turning up.
The return of truancy officers implies a punitive approach when questions need to be asked about what schools are doing to engage parents and Māori.
He says schools design their own systems and policies, and some of those systems are racist.
“When schools say ‘we can resolve the issue,’ I say it would be fantastic if they can but are they resolving it with whānau? Are they resolving it with the community? Are they doing it to the community? Are they doing it for the community? They are very different approaches and often I think schools don’t know how to work or engage with whānau. They say things to us, ‘Oh but the whānau don’t come when we invite them in.’ We do ‘do you go to whānau, do you sit down, do you actually go into their spaces? You’re always asking them to come and work with you but it’s always on your terms,'” Mr Campbell says.
He says having youth workers and whānau navigators in schools can take off some of the load off teachers and help schools and whānau make bettter decisions.