Truancy numbers decline in Auckland
Truancy has decreased by nearly 40 per cent in parts of Auckland following a community drive to tackle the problem.
Hundreds fewer students are skipping school since Auckland City Education Services (ACES) started the Truancy Free Areas programme last year.
Working closely with the police, business associations and schools, the programme aims to curb truancy in Auckland communities.
Businesses play a vital role in the programme, discouraging students from accessing their services during school hours.
They contact a truant student’s school or police for assistance.
ACES manager Karyl Puklowski says the programme is active in Glen Innes, Panmure, Onehunga, Three Kings, Mt Roskill, Sandringham and Avondale.
‘‘When we first started, we were picking up at least 600 kids a year and that’s dropped down to 400,’’ Puklowski says.
‘‘Whats working is the proactive measures that we’ve put in place, identifying them early.
‘‘It’s not just the problem of playing hooky for a day, but finding out why, getting to the root of the problem so we can make sure that it doesn’t happen again.’’
The group gathers information and creates a map identifying problem areas and uses that to run projects designed to deal with truancy.
There is also the option of talking to student’s families to address ongoing issues.
The latest Ministry of Education attendance data reveals that at least 9500 Auckland students are unjustifiably absent on any given day.
ACES figures showed most students who skipped school were males.
Year 9 to 12 are consistently the highest school year found to be truant.
Balmoral Police youth services Sergeant Junior Fiu says they consistently monitor common hangouts for young people.
Train stations, bus stops, parks, shopping malls and libraries are popular gathering places.
‘‘It’s during the middle of the year that we found truancy numbers going up,’’ Fiu says.
Members of the public are encouraged to report any truancy to their local police, ACES or by email at email@example.com
Members of the Truancy Free Areas programme, from left, Karyl Puklowski, Katy Kenward, Keith Morris and Sergeant Junior Fiu.