Sup­port group says tru­ancy is out of con­trol

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Jil­lian McKee

A MT DRUITT com­mu­nity leader says tru­ancy among school stu­dents in the re­gion is “out of con­trol”.

Mt Druitt Learn­ing Ground’s Deb­bie Hig­gi­son said her pro­gram for strug­gling stu­dents found many had no con­nec­tion to school.

Her find­ings val­i­date sta­tis­tics from the na­tional My School web­site that shows high school at­ten­dance rates in St Marys and Mt Druitt are as much as 12 per cent lower than the state av­er­age.

HIGH school at­ten­dance rates in the St Marys and Mt Druitt ar­eas are up to 12 per cent lower than the state av­er­age.

Sta­tis­tics from the na­tional My School’s web­site show rates in all schools in the area have dropped in the past year.

The statewide av­er­age for at­ten­dance in 2015 was 92.2 per cent, how­ever, lo­cal schools such as Chi­fley Col­lege Shalvey Cam­pus and Chi­fley Col­lege Bid­will Cam­pus recorded at­ten­dance rates as low as 78 per cent dur­ing term three.

Coly­ton High School and Chi­fley Col­lege Dun­heved Cam­pus were also be­low the state av­er­age with an at­ten­dance rate at 80 per cent.

Deb­bie Hig­gi­son, of Mt Druitt Learn­ing Ground which runs a pro­gram for strug­gling stu­dents, said tru­ancy was out of con­trol.

“We have found the kids don’t feel a con­nec­tion to school,” Mrs Hig­gi­son said.

“If they want to so­cialise they’ll do it on Snapchat or Face­book, if they want to know some­thing they will Google it. Some­times the abuse be­tween par­ents and kids is so bad the par­ents just give up on send­ing the kids to school.”

Mrs Hig­gi­son said more sup­port was needed.

“Ser­vices like headspace and like our pro­gram are at ca­pac­ity; we now have a wait­ing list,” she said.

Mt Druitt state La­bor MP Ed­mond Atalla is call­ing on the State Gov­ern­ment to change its pol­icy on tru­ancy.

“I am ask­ing for a re­view of the pol­icy that was first in­tro­duced in 1999, to see if it is still valid,” Mr Atalla said.

“This par­tic­u­lar pol­icy gave po­lice power to in­ves­ti­gate, it is still in place but it seems po­lice aren’t even aware of it.”

Mr Atalla said he also was try­ing to fa­cil­i­tate a meet­ing be­tween Learn­ing Ground and the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter.

An Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment spokesman said school at­ten­dance was taken se­ri­ously. “Where school-based strate­gies have not been suc­cess­ful in re­solv­ing at­ten­dance con­cerns, home school li­ai­son of­fi­cers and Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dent li­ai­son of­fi­cers work with pub­lic schools, stu­dents and their fam­i­lies to ad­dress is­sues,” he said.”

The de­part­ment can also seek a Com­pul­sory School Order in the Chil­dren’s Court.

TRU­ANCY RATES Kids skip school

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