Taiwhenua leads truancy battle

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Hastings organisation Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga will lead a new Ministry of Education programme in Hawke's Bay which aims to tackle truancy.

It begins at the start of the 2013 school year.

The taiwhenua has been awarded the ministry's contract to deliver its new School Attendance Service which will take an innovative approach to helping children realise their educational potential.

The service will target schools from Tutira, north of Napier, to Wairarapa in the south.

It will support young people facing difficulties in continuing with their education.

The taiwhenua already provided a range of youth education and social services and its education and social services general manager Nathan Harrington said the new Attendance Service would complement existing youth services.

It would aim for early intervention to resolve issues which lead children into truancy.

Nationally, an estimated 30,000 children are absent from school on any given day.

"As an organisation we realise that attendance is a huge issue, and we are calling on the community to join us to help our kids achieve at school," Mr Harrington said.

"We have spoken with schools, community groups and iwi, and we are excited about the enthusiasm they have shown for the service we will be delivering."

The taiwhenua had three programmes targeting youth involved with the justice system.

"Eighty per cent of these young people have issues regarding their attendance at school, and 50 per cent of them committed their offences during school hours."

The service would aim to find out the wider problems which contributed to truancy and why young people were getting into trouble.

Mr Harrington said it will be more effective than trying to deal with truancy in isolation.

"We will be taking a pro-active, wrap-around approach, using our own services and drawing on resources within the communities such as ROCK ON, Social Workers in Schools and Strengthening Families," Mr Harrington said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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