Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Education Matters

WA Labor makes school attendance a priority

Labor Statement

A WA Labor Government will make school attendance a priority by adopting a whole-of-government response to attendance problems confronting WA schools, WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan said today.

Mr McGowan said a student is considered to regularly attend school if they attend for at least 90 per cent of the time. According to the Department of Education's Annual reports, attendance rates among Aboriginal secondary students fell from 69 per cent in 2007-08 to 64 per cent in 2011-12.

"Regular attendance is vital to a child's success at school," Mr McGowan said.

"However, no one can get a quality education if they don't go to school in the first place. We want all Western Australian children to have the opportunity to go to school and get a quality education.

"International and Australian academic studies show that truancy is one of the risk factors for a young person becoming involved in crime.

"Addressing truancy is one way of addressing youth crime.

"Western Australia needs a strategic, whole-of-government response to attendance problems and a WA Labor Government will provide the leadership required to boost attendance rates."

Mr McGowan said WA Labor's $13.45million program included:

 

  • Provision of 40 trained attendance and behaviour officers for WA's 40 schools facing the greatest attendance and behaviour challenges;
  • Hiring of eight Attendance and Behaviour Managers to support schools and run new Attendance and Behaviour Units in each of the State's eight regional education offices; and
  • Establishment of an Attendance and Behaviour Directorate to provide a whole-of-government response to truancy and behaviour in schools.

"WA Labor's plan focuses on placing trained professionals on

the ground to help schools and principals deal with the challenges of truancy," Mr McGowan said.

"We will target 40 of Western Australia's schools that face the greatest attendance and behavioural challenges.

"Each of these schools will be supported by a trained, on-site attendance officer, as well as Attendance and Behaviour Units in each of the State's eight regional education offices."

Mr McGowan said the Barnett Government failed to make school attendance a priority. Instead it has cut attendance-related funding, which has led to an alarming drop in attendance rates among Indigenous students.

"It also broke a pre-election promise to reinstate school‐based police officers and cut funding for the Participation Directorate, whose job it was to work with those senior students at risk of becoming disengaged," he said.

"The Barnett Government has failed to focus on the basic need to get children into school.

"WA Labor values public education and believes every child deserves a quality education, no matter where they live.

"Our approach will focus on the basic building blocks of education and make attendance a priority, so all children can have the best possible learning opportunities."

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