Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Point of Order: Govt pumps $74m into truancy package....

......but will Tinetti be a dunce, or will she prosecute parents and earn top marks

Two cyclone-related announcements were found on the Beehive website this morning. But a ministerial announcement that triggered a tart response from ACT – about truancy – had not yet been posted, although it was the subject of a front-page headline in the Dominion-Post today.

The headline was $74m package to fight truancy.

But not – we suspect – to prosecute parents who fail to do their bit in sending their children to school. As ACT’s David Seymour reminded us, just one family has been fined for their children’s truancy in five years under s244 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

The announcements on the Beehive website, the official website of the New Zealand Government, around noon were:

The Government has moved quickly to put in place a Cabinet Committee and regional Ministerial leads to help coordinate the Central Government response and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The New Zealand Government has this afternoon extended the state of national emergency declared on 14 February for a further seven days, in response to the widespread impacts caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The Government is providing a further interim emergency relief package for regions hit by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new Extreme Weather Recovery Committee will be chaired by Grant Robertson as Minister for Cyclone Recovery, with Barbara Edmonds as deputy. The Prime Minister and Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty will also be members.

The Government is providing an initial $50 million support package for businesses, farmers and growers, as well as injecting an extra $250 million to help Councils fix roads, get transport links back up and access into communities.

“But recovery is going to take a long time, so the Committee will help steer the work needed over the coming weeks and months to get affected regions back up and running again.”

Hipkins has appointed Ministers for each affected region, who will work directly with local councils on the local response.

Some regions – at first blush – will be better served than others. The Ministerial leads are:
  • Northland: Minister Kelvin Davis
  • Auckland and Coromandel: Minister Michael Wood
  • Waikato: Minister Nanaia Mahuta
  • Tairāwhiti and Bay of Plenty: Minister Kiri Allan
  • Hawke’s Bay: Minister Stuart Nash
  • Tararua and Wairarapa: Minister Kieran McAnulty.
Megan Woods will be the member of the Committee responsible for infrastructure and housing. Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni will be the member responsible for the social sector.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson and Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri will also be members – each of whom will have responsibilities overseeing the recovery in these areas.

The Extreme Weather Recovery Committee will meet for the first time next week, then meet regularly to ensure the needs of communities continue to be met, and be responsible for bringing to Cabinet a plan for the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The taskforce announced yesterday, led by Sir Brian Roche, will feed into and report back to this committee.

The response to Cyclone Gabrielle will still be led by local civil defence and supported by the National Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty signed the declaration extending the state of national emergency declared on 14 February.

The extension covers the states of national emergency over the Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawke’s Bay regions, and the Tararua District. All regions were consulted before extending the declaration and supported the extension.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Transport Minister Michael Wood announced the further interim emergency relief package for regions hit by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods. It comprises:
  • $250 million to help Waka Kotahi and local councils to assess and fix roads
  • $50 million to provide immediate support to businesses and the primary sector affected by the weather events.
  • Inland Revenue support including interest write-offs, tax concessions for donated trading stock and an extension of R&D Tax Incentive filing deadlines
This support comes on top of a range of assistance provided to people and businesses via:

Mayoral Relief Funds: $3.35 million has been dispersed in the Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Thames-Coromandel and Auckland regions, with further requests expected

Civil Defence Payments: More than $28.4 million of Civil Defence Payments have been made to approximately 57,000 people

The Primary Sector Response: An initial $4 million has been made available through MPI

Community and Social support: A $11.5 million package for NGOs and community groups to provide immediate support

Initial support for the Upper North Island flooding: An initial $5 million business support fund for those largely in Auckland affected by the floods in January.

Point of Order was alerted to the statement on truancy from Education Minister Jan Tinetti – a $74 million package – by the statement from ACT’s David Seymour which scoffed at what she was doing.

It wasn’t to be found on the official Government website when first we looked this morning (but we did find it on Scoop HERE).

It was officially posted on the Beehive website later in the day.

The Government has launched a plan to get young people back into the classroom with more Attendance Officers in schools and more support for the Attendance Service.

The support, in a nutshell, comprise –
  • The establishment of 82 new Attendance Officer roles;
  • Further investment in the Attendance Service to support over 3000 more young people
  • Commitment to improve and standardise attendance data.
“We know how important it is for young people to be at school and learning, so the Government is putting every effort into making sure they are. We are going back to basics on attendance,” Jan Tinetti said.

“This $74 million package puts resources on the ground to support schools and students and make a difference to attendance rates this year. It will also make sure we have better data that is less likely to be misconstrued, and helps us to focus our efforts in the right place.”

The new Attendance Officers will work with students who have low or declining attendance rates, to ensure they are going to school every day unless they are sick. They will work alongside parents and schools to turn around attendance rates.

The Attendance Service already works with students who are chronically absent, or not enrolled at all, and this will help it to support 3000 more young people, Tinetti said.

She blamed Covid for the growing incidence of truancy.

“The decline in school attendance began in 2015, but the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. We need to be doing more to help schools and kura support students who are not attending or engaged in education,” Jan Tinetti said.

This package builds on the $88 million package announced last year, consisting of the Regional Response Fund and direct investment into programmes that help young people engage in learning, as well as the ongoing work through the Attendance Strategy and attendance campaigns launched last year.

So far, at least $6.3 million of the $10 million Regional Response Fund (RRF) has been paid out, been approved, or is awaiting approval. This covers at least 130 initiatives involving over 445 schools.

But should parents play a role?

Of course. But Tinetti’s emphasis is on making it a challenging community issue rather than something for which delinquent parents should be blamed:

“This is a complex issue that will require the whole community, including parents, to fix but the Government is committed to doing everything it can turn attendance and engagement in school around.

“We know that there are many reasons why a child might not show up to school, which is why we’re also continuing our initiatives that are focused on removing barriers to education such as free period products, free healthy school lunches, school donations, preventing bullying and redesigning our curriculum.”

Can we expect results fairly soon?

Don’t be silly.

“These measures will, over time, ensure that young people right across the country are attending, want to be at school and are on the right path to success in their education,” Jan Tinetti said.

ACT leader David Seymour countered that throwing money at the truancy crisis is a failed idea from failed Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

“That bureaucrats came up with nothing better shows we need a total clean out and ACT’s plan to fire half of the Ministry of Education is the correct one”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

We need accountability, he said. That means mandatory daily attendance reporting and fines for parents who refuse to send their kids to school, as set out in ACT’s truancy plan released in November.

Seymour said attendance data was five months late, the Ministry barely keeps track of what truancy organisations are doing, and parents aren’t held accountable.

“The Ministry says it has increased the number of organisations contracted to deal with truancy from 45 to 79 but, as ACT revealed in November, it barely keeps track of what they’re doing. Despite allocating $16.5 million to attendance services last year, the Ministry didn’t know how many attendance officers there were and didn’t receive any truancy data from 108 schools in Term 2.

“We have a truancy crisis in this country and yet the data for Term 3 last year was five months late. Was it incompetence or was the Ministry hiding it?”

Seymour’s figures show
  • Only one family has been handed a fine for their children’s truancy in five years under s244 of the Education and Training Act 2020.
  • There were 40 per cent more cases of truancy last year than there was in 2021.
  • In Term 2 of last year, 60 per cent of students did not attend regularly. It gets worse by decile, with only 23 per cent of Decile 1 attending regularly.
  • In Northland, only 28 per cent of all students attended regularly.
But the reality is probably worse than these figures show because 108 schools did not even submit their attendance data.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


Don said...

What has happened to the Register of Attendance which Primary teachers were required to fill in twice a day, 9am and 2pm, and absences followed up if not covered by a note within a short time. Secondary teachers were allocated a Form (class) and followed a similar routine. In my 50 years service I recall this system was followed strictly and truancy rare. I am mystified.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

>"... we’re also continuing our initiatives that are focused on removing barriers to education such as free period products, free healthy school lunches, school donations, preventing bullying and redesigning our curriculum.”

What have free tampons to do with 'barriers to education'?
As for free school lunches, how does letting negligent parents off the responsibility hook address truancy?
It's a miracle any of my generation ever learned to read and write seeing how we never got these things.
But we still attended....... and were taught PROPERLY........ by people who regarded themselves as TEACHERS and not as social engineering agents.

DeeM said...

God help the poor people in cyclone affected areas when they have the usual bunch of clueless no-hopers to manage things.

This could make or break Hipkins. And I suspect with these clowns it will likely break him.
That will be the only good thing to come out of this NATURAL disaster. Yes, natural. Not man-made climate-change as James Shaw keeps wetting himself to tell everyone.

A rare event but one that's happened in the past and will happen again.

Robert Arthur said...

Some years ago my wife did extensive reliever teaching. At one school just out of Auckland she was taken aback at the truancy and slack attitude to. The problem was that for reasonable functioning (and for those local a tolerable life ) it was critical not to stir up a co ordinated anti response among the maori parents, aunts, grandparents etc who were the care providers. Now thanks to the de colonisation efforts of Moana Jackson and others many of the "care" givers are now permanently stirred up. And many have gang connections to intimidate any adventurous teacher. No strong action on any line is now possible because the statistics will be interpreted as treatment on a racial basis. And for fear of cancellation no employee dares take a hard line against maori. Caregivers have now to be cajoled with various assistances, either straight or disguised money or takeover of many of their inherent functions. Of course if students were retained at the level of their ability as of old, school may not seem so daunting and dispiriting and attendance be maintained.

Hazel Modisett said...

And how much of this has got to do with the woke curricullum forced down the kids necks nowadays ?
Most of my friends & I (legally) homeschool our kids because we refuse to allow our kids to be brainwashed. We do not agree with or consent to our kids being forced to accept instruction on the LGBT (homosexual) agenda, critical race theory, revisionist history or forced to learn a language that is spoken by less than 160,000 people on the entire planet & being dictated to by a minority culture that is not their own.
What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is none of my business (as long as nobody is getting hurt), but that does not give these minorities the right to force their agendas on vulnerable children.
Govt has proven over the previous decades that it is incapable of even organising a decent piss up in a brewery & the state of ALL govt run entities is sad testament to that. My advice to politicians is to pull your heads out of the collective arse that is parliament & go back to your masters at the UN & now WEF & tell them the jig is up & we are no longing willing to comply.