10 Nov 2022

No excuse for low attendance in schools says Luxon

7:11 pm on 10 November 2022
National Party leader Christopher Luxon at Canterbury A&P Show

National Party leader Christopher Luxon at Canterbury A&P Show Photo: RNZ / Adam Burns

National Party leader Christopher Luxon believes Covid-19 is no excuse for low attendance rates in schools.

It follows latest attendance figures revealing just 40 percent of children went to school regularly in term two this year

In a report published today the office said it found four in 10 parents were comfortable with their child missing a week or more of school per term and a third of students did not see going to school every day as that important.

It found families were keeping children home due to illness, but also because they were tired, in poor mental health, or being bullied.

Speaking to media at the Canterbury A and P Show in Christchurch today, Luxon said corresponding figures overseas suggested the pandemic is not to blame.

"I looked at the term one data, you know earlier in the year and what was obvious to me less than half of the actual decline in absence school was due to sickness," he said.

"And it's the same here. Other countries have had Omicron, other countries have had Covid, Ireland, Canada, Australia, the US, UK and they have much higher levels of regular attendance at schools here.

"We need a concerted effort by government schools and parents to get their kids back to school."

Luxon did not rule out introducing similar legislation to the UK where parents could face fines if they let children skip school in term time.

"We need to consider absolutely anything and everything in order to get parents to face up to their responsibility," he said.

Luxon proposed deploying "a lot of those people are sitting on the back office of the ministry functions" to the frontlines to work with families.

Luxon on US midterms

Luxon was reluctant to survey political developments in the United States but said "he will work with anyone".

President Joe Biden has hailed yesterday's US midterm elections as "a good day for democracy", while control of Congress hangs in the balance.

The Republicans are inching towards a slim majority in the US House of Representatives but the predicted red wave has not materialised.

When asked if polling in general can be a false dawn, Luxon said he was unsure.

"All I can tell you, as you know, I will work with whoever, you know, I don't get involved in elections of other countries.

"I need to work with whoever the people of America elect as their president and the government."

A sharp drop in support for Labour and leader Jacinda Ardern was reported this week in the Newshub Reid Research poll.

Labour sat at a tick over 32 percent, down nearly six points since its last poll in April.

As preferred Prime Minister, Ardern had dropped about 6.5 points to just under 30 percent; National's Christopher Luxon down a few points to 21.5 percent.