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Truancy tackled

In a remarkable turnaround, Masterton Intermediate and Lakeview Schools have slashed chronic truancy by 84 per cent compared to the same time last year.

After only one term, the two schools’ jointly funded attendance programme is already producing positive results, with only 11 students missing 20 or more school days – down from 71 during term one in 2022.

The programme – run by Laurence Titter of Wairarapa Youth Charitable Trust and veteran principal Frazer Mailman – has helped provide targeted solutions to improve students’ attendance, such as correct school uniforms or rides to school.

The programme also rewards students for good attendance by entering them into a draw to win prizes at fortnightly assemblies and at the end of term.

Both schools significantly improved “regular attendance” rates [meaning above 90 per cent or more] compared to last year, when the national rate was under 50 per cent.

Last year in term one, only six students had full attendance across the two schools – this year, that increased to 81 students.

Lakeview acting principal Paul Andersen said the attendance initiative is not only producing better attendance data – it’s also improving student engagement and wellbeing.

“Many students are taking pride in the improvements they have made. Students are talking about their attendance with peers and are encouraging each other,” he said.

Andersen said the fortnightly attendance draws are full of names that would not have been there in previous years.

“Staff and whanau have more engagement and dialogue around attendance and actively seek to find solutions where needed.”
He said the programme “is clearly producing positive outcomes and reversing the negative trends we have seen building in recent years, including covid.”
Meanwhile, MIS principal Russell Thompson said the programme was a “huge success” in term one.
“The fact that Laurence Titter knows many of our families has enabled him to work in a supportive role as opposed to taking a punitive approach.
“Frazer does an excellent job of the administration for the programme, which has freed up our office staff and school leaders to get on with the other important mahi [work] that is required each day,” Thompson said.
The Lakeview and MIS boards have committed to jointly funding the programme until the end of the year, but Mailman is already looking to expand the initiative with Ministry of Education funding.
Mailman is meeting with the Ministry and local MP Kieran McAnulty in two weeks to present the term one data and to propose expanding the programme to cover all the primary schools in the Masterton district.


  1. Fantastic; Well Done to Frazer and Laurence we certainly need this skilled input.
    Byron L Knight

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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