The principal of a large secondary school has taken a 'tough love' approach to truancy - telling students who cut class they are highly likely to go to prison, be illiterate or be a rape or suicide victim.

The speech yesterday by Hamilton's Fraser High School principal Virginia Crawford was secretly recorded by a student and was uploaded to video sharing site YouTube at 8pm. It already had 7000 views this morning.

It has drawn the ire of students and parents on social media with many condemning the speech as demotivating and stereotyping.

"Any student that walks out the gate to truant is already the statistic of the worse kind," Crawford said during the speech given at school assembly.


"Highly likely to go to prison, either commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem, die at an early age, have an addiction, gambling, drugs or smoking."

Crawford told the students truants wouldn't survive outside of Hamilton and pretended they were "a big person" in Nawton, Dinsdale or Western Heights.

"When I drive out of school during class time for meetings, and I see groups of students sitting outside the dairy, fish and chip shop, bus stop, some of the things I am thinking is that is another group of students without a future.

"That is another student who will end up as a statistic, that's another loser, that's another wannabe. Another student desperate for friendship, another we've lost."

She urged students to put in the effort at school to make a better life for themselves.

"You and I know the only way to fix this is to do the mahi now, to do the work now. School is not easy, but it is a lot easier than having no hope and being cast aside without any worthwhile future."

Hamilton's Fraser High School, where the principal gave a speech about truancy that has angered some parents. Photo / Christine Cornege
Hamilton's Fraser High School, where the principal gave a speech about truancy that has angered some parents. Photo / Christine Cornege

One parent commented on the post calling the speech "disturbing" and said they would pull their daughter out of Fraser High School until Crawford was replaced.

"Yes she's had days off school, and there's been a time I've forgotten to call ... But when you say such things like this," Mardonmac wrote.

"You have failed my daughter as an educator, you have failed the system. My daughter hasn't failed as a student and I haven't failed as a parent.

"This revolting, tormenting speech has only proven that you madam principal are the failure in this matter. Disgusting inappropriate accusations."

Jenna Smith said the speech was full of shame and condemnation.

"I think her motive might have been genuine - but her method was terrible ... If you really want people to succeed you need to inspire and build a platform for them - not predict their horrible future.

"Basically everyone in this hall who has been truant has just heard that they are a wannabe loser with no hope of a positive future.

"Unfortunately I don't think this speech will turn them around ... and this lady has presumed the reasons for every child's truancy is cookie cutter 'I'm too cool for school' reasons when they are not".

But Madison Ross wrote: "She's trying to encourage kids to do their best. When you're a teacher and you see students not fulfilling their potential and/or making poor decisions it's disheartening and you want the best for the students.

"At least she's trying to encourage them to make good choices rather than giving up on them completely, which a lot of teachers do when they've exhausted every option."

Board of Trustees chairman Jeff Green said the school had received a "great deal of positive feedback" on the speech.

He said the board was very supportive of its principal "for being strong enough to have challenging conversations with our students".

"Everyone on the board of trustees, in the senior leadership team and on the staff at our school wants to equip each one of our students with the best possible education and tools for life.

"We consider that even if just one student reconsiders the path they are taking and takes steps in a more positive direction after this speech then that could have huge impact on their future lives and those of their family and friends and wider community."

Once the largest secondary schools in the Waikato, Fraser High School is no stranger to controversy.

In 2011 its former principal Martin Elliott was convicted of two charges of taking or obtaining a document for pecuniary advantage after he used school money to pay for alterations to his beach house and then tried to hide the fraud.

Elliott had also taken a hardline approach during his 12 years at the school, instigating Saturday classes for failing students, banning cellphones in class to stop text bullying, allowing parents to do chores around the school to pay their children's fees and starting a creche for teenage mothers.

Elliott faced criticism for arranging for three students who admitted burning down the school's gym to speak at an assembly, and allowing condoms with ball tickets.

When he resigned in 2009 following an investigation into financial mismanagement of taxpayer funding, Crawford became acting principal and later principal.

The decile four school's roll has dropped in recent years from 1657 to 1496 at February this year.

In the past four years, nine students have been excluded from the school for verbal or physical assaults on teachers.

In total there had been 24 verbal assaults on staff including 15 by boys and nine by girls. Seven students were excluded over them.

According to figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act, there were four physical assaults on teachers, two by boys and two by girls. Two were excluded by the board of trustees.

- Additional reporting by Tom Rowland.