17 Dec 2012

Truancy officers 'shafted'' in overhaul

8:42 am on 17 December 2012

A number of truancy officers say they were ''absolutely shafted'' by the Ministry of Education during an overhaul of the truancy service.

From next year, the number of agencies trying to keep children at school will reduce from 79 to 18, which the ministry says will reduce fragmentation.

But a number of truancy officers have lost their jobs as a result.

One of these officers, Stephan Dyer, who has worked in Taranaki for 12 years, said he and others are worried about the loss of experience from the new service and feel the ministry just dismissed their concerns.

He said three other officers in Taranaki are also now out of work and others in Invercargill, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Wanganui and Hamilton, feel the same.

The ministry says the new service will take the best from the old system and develop new ways to help students.

The National Urban Maori Authority has told Radio New Zealand it has picked up the contracts for truancy services in Hamilton, north-west Auckland and Wellington and the new system will result in a real shift in the way truancy is dealt with in New Zealand.

Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh said he does not understand why the service is being changed.

By and large, it's worked well for a number of years, he said.

30,000 students per day miss school

A truancy survey issued in March 2010 for 2009 showed that more than 30,000 students per day fail to turn up to classes.

In the country as a whole, one in 25 students had skipped school for either part, or all, of the day during last year.

The survey revealed the Gisborne region had the highest rate of student absences in the country, while absenteeism was lowest in Manawatu and Whanganui.