June 24, 2017

Parents to get truancy reminders

ttp://www.stuff.co.nz/nelsonmail/4666609a6007.html

Parents to get truancy reminders

By MARCUS STICKLEY – Nelson | Monday, 25 August 2008

Parents could soon start being prosecuted for taking their children out of school for a holiday, a Nelson principal says.

Primary schools have been reinforcing attendance rules with parents after receiving reminders from the Education Ministry to do so.

Under the Education Act, every pupil enrolled at a registered school must attend the school whenever it is open. Ministry guidelines say it is up to principals to decide whether an absence is justified.

Parents can be prosecuted for not sending their children to school, and fines of $15 a day – up to $150 for a first offence – can be imposed if they are convicted.

Hampden St School principal Don McLean said that for a school to prosecute a parent for taking their child away on holiday would be a “bold thing to do, but maybe it’s not too far away”.

In his school newsletter in May, he told parents that the ministry was taking a “tougher line on attendance and have clearly defined what a justifiable absence is and what truancy is”.

“Some of you may be surprised to hear that if you take your child on an overseas trip in school time, this is considered an unjustified absence and therefore your children are recorded as truant.”

Similarly, a week-long ski trip during school time would also be unjustified, he said in the newsletter.

Mr McLean told the Nelson Mail the school kept a record of pupils who missed school due to family holidays, and he planned to “take parents aside” to discuss the issue if they did it regularly.

“We have to get tough on them.”

However, he said the rules were “one size fits all”, which he did not agree with.

If a pupil was travelling to a destination such as Europe, the cultural education they would get could be more valuable than what they would learn in the classroom in that time, he said.

Mr McLean said four children were currently away overseas, mostly for family reasons.

“There seems to be a lot at the moment.”

Hampden St School parent Andrew Meffan has taken his two children on week-long skiing holidays to Wanaka during the school term in previous years.

He said he planned to do the same next week, staying with members of his extended family in a house that was available to them only at certain times during the year.

“But we don’t want to be on the wrong side of the rules and have a truancy officer knock on our door.”

Mr Meffan said truancy rules needed to be targeted appropriately.

“There needs to be more of an evaluation of cases based on the student and family, and commitment to learning.”

St Paul’s Catholic Primary School principal John Dorman said he had received a letter from the ministry before the start of the school year, saying schools should not condone parents taking their children out of school for holidays.

Craig wrote this letter to the editor:

25 August 2008

Letter to Editor

Nelson Mail

Nelson

The idea of schools threatening parents with truancy notices for taking their children on holiday demonstrates one of the more obvious characteristics of state schooling institutions: that they are simply prisons or child warehouses, designed to baby-sit kids and keep them off the streets.

A holiday with the family, the MoE apparently informs the schools, is not a “justified” absence from school. So the MoE equates a geographical/cultural/social field trip with a child’s parents and siblings to hanging around the mall or sitting at home watching videos all day. The MoE demonstrates again its disconnection from the real world. Any formal notification by the parents that they are taking the child out of the schooling institution should be justification enough: the parents’ authority should trump that of the MoE any day.

Regards,

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