National | Education

Te Tai Tokerau school attendance numbers high after local campaign

A truancy campaign featuring local students is credited with getting more students in Te Tai Tokerau to attend school on a regular basis in just one term.

Northland has had the worst school attendance in the country with just 28 percent regularly attending in term two last year. Now it can lay claim to increasing attendance by around 2000 students.

Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association president Pat Newman says the organisation’s campaign, E Te Tai Tokerau - Hoake tātou ki te kura, has been successful, with about 500 students returning to class since it launched in August 2022.

Newman credits that success to having no bureaucratic interference and letting the principals get on with the mahi.

“We’ve developed an overarching campaign, which was Facebook pages and the ability to have different schools interviewed about why it’s important for their kids to be at school.”

Every screen that the campaign could be shown on, Newman made sure to show it on. Including the collective efforts of all schools. Individual schools have had their own initiatives see success too, with students themselves getting involved and revealing their reasons for why they go to school and encouraging their fellow absentee pupils to come back.

“The last part of the campaign has been kids and students thanking their parents, their koros, and their nanas for getting them to school.

“It’s allowed us to try to connect with the whole community, through publicity, that it’s not a matter of the school, it’s not just the matter of the individual whānau – it’s the wider whānau, the wider community.”

The Hora Hora Primary School principal says the statistics for school attendance have reached 83.9 percent on average every week this year, with only 7.3 percent in justified absences.

“As a result of that, we’ve got a lot more learning going on.”

Public Interest Journalism