Getting some children through the school gates and into the classroom is often the single biggest challenge in education.
The Australian Law Reform Commission found repeated truancy is a common ground for suspension or expulsion. It reported that truanting or being excluded from school substantially increases the risk of young people being caught up in the youth justice system.
In Queensland there were 78,779 unauthorised absences in 2016, up from 67,297 in 2015.
From July 2015 to March 2017 under this Labor Government, more than 42,000 students were absent from Queensland schools for five consecutive days or more with no explanation or authorisation.
Despite thousands of students missing from school, many for long periods and with no explanation, only 44 parents in 2016 were referred to police for investigation. It is an offence for a parent to fail to ensure their child’s attendance at school.
In government, the LNP delivered significant education reforms. After almost 20 of the previous 22 years under Labor governments, it was a huge task to turn things around. The LNP inherited a run-down school system with a maintenance backlog of more than $300 million. We cleared this backlog and revitalised Queensland schools by investing $600 million over three years.
In 2014, the LNP Government introduced the Great Results Guarantee – a true needs-based resourcing model for state schools. Schools were given flexibility and autonomy to decide how the Great Results Guarantee funding was spent to improve learning outcomes. The LNP delivered the Great Results Guarantee by investing an additional $131 million directly into Queensland schools.
The previous LNP Government delivered on our commitment to help state schools become Independent Public Schools (IPS). IPS involve local communities in decision making to deliver better learning outcomes for students.
Under the LNP, 80 Queensland state schools took up the opportunity to become an Independent Public School in 2013-14. Another 50 schools joined in 2015. Since then, the policy has continued with 250 IPS now in Queensland.
OUR REAL PLAN
A Tim Nicholls-led LNP Government will:
- Trial a rollout of four Education Truancy Prevention Officers in Cairns and Townsville
Introduce Education Parental Agreements, and
Engage local community organisations in Townsville and Cairns to provide counselling and parenting support to those parents voluntarily entering the parenting agreement process.
The Queensland LNP is building stronger families so we can Build a Better Queensland.
As part of our plan to drive economic growth and diversify the economy we are focused on delivering an education system that helps shape and prepare our kids for a better future.
We will introduce a series of initiatives to tackle truancy and boost school attendance while working with parents to ensure children get access to the best education.
In the trial regions, schools will be required to refer any child absent from school for more than five days (without a reasonable excuse) to a truancy officer for investigation.
Parents have an important part to play in their child’s education. Their input and support is the foundation for ensuring their child not only attends school but is actively engaged and open to learning.
In Queensland, parents not only have a moral obligation, but a legal obligation to ensure their children of school age attend school.
Voluntary parenting agreements are one tool that schools and authorities can utilise to work with parents where there are issues of truancy or misbehaviour.
Voluntary parenting contracts can be used for cases of misbehaviour or irregular attendance. They are voluntary agreements but non-compliance can form evidence for future more punitive measures.
The agreements will include parenting support, including counselling, to help parents ensure their child attends school. With a $3 million investment, we will partner with local service providers to address underlying factors contributing to truancy.