8 Sep 2022

Figures unclear on how many students are wagging school

9:24 am on 8 September 2022
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Photo: 123rf

How many students are wagging school?

Earlier this week National Party leader Christopher Luxon told Morning Report 100,000 children were chronically truant.

This is incorrect.

The figure he was referring to is from term 1 this year when 101,861 children were chronically absent - but not necessarily truant.

Children are chronically absent if they miss 30 percent or more of the half-days that schools were open in term 1 - essentially three weeks out of 10.

What is not clear is how many of those students had good reasons for missing school, such as being unwell or isolating because a member of their household had Covid-19.

That is because the figures about justified and unjustified absences are based on the number of half-days that students were absent, not on the students themselves.

However the figures do show that most absences in term 1 were justified.

Students had justified absences for 9.1 percent of the half-days in term 1, up from 4.3 percent in the same period in 2019.

Unjustified absences spiked to 6.5 percent of half-days, compared to 3.5 percent in term 1 2019.

But only half of the unjustified absence figure was classed as truancy.

The 6.5 percent was broken down to three percent being "no information provided - truant (or throw away explanation)", 2.7 percent "absent with an explained but unjustified reason", 0.3 holiday during term time, and 0.4 "unknown reason".

Meanwhile, separate figures show what percentage of children are turning up to school each day.

They show an average daily attendance rate of 76 percent in term 1 and an average of 83 percent so far in the current term, term 3.

None of these figures show how many children are considered chronically truant.

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