Young people and caregivers’ perspectives on truancy and non-enrolment

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Te Ora Hou Otautahi
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Bruce J
McCormack A

Within the Christchurch region, Māori young people are more likely to be non-enrolled (NE), than young people from other ethnic backgrounds. The Attendance Service operating in this region (Te Ora Hou Ōtautahi, K3 Service) identified this as an area of concern, and was granted research funding by the Ministry of Education to investigate the possible reasons why Māori young people are more likely to become NE. A qualitative research project was undertaken during 2016. Over a period of several months, K3 staff (kaiāwhina) conducted 40 interviews with 10 NE young people who identified as Māori, and 10 young people who identified as non-Māori. A caregiver of each of the young person interviewed was also interviewed by kaiāwhina. Kaiāwhina conducted interviews with participants who were known to them as part of their regular caseload. The young people interviewed were either currently identified as NE, or had been NE within the last 12 months. Interviews were analysed thematically, and themes between the four groups were compared and contrasted. Young people and caregivers expressed a number of similar ideas about schooling and experiences of truancy and being NE. These included a desire to connect and engage with learning, the need for effective communication and positive relationships at school with teachers and other students, and the related theme of bullying. Regarding young people specifically, perhaps the most significant theme to emerge was relationships (whanaungatanga). Relationships with teachers, other students (particularly bullying), caregivers, and pastoral care personnel were all important in determining the extent to which young people felt connected at school. More non-Māori than Māori young people indicated that they accessed pastoral care support. Many young people indicated that bullying was a significant issue and they felt that schools weren’t doing enough to address this. It was also clear from the findings that most young people wanted to engage in learning. Some young people struggled to receive the help they needed, and this led to disengagement in classes. Caregivers from both groups wanted young people in their care to attend school and experience success. They felt schools could make some curriculum changes to become more relevant and practical; and both Māori and non-Māori caregivers commented on a desire for schools to become more culturally relevant to different ethnic groups. Many caregivers wanted schools to communicate more regularly with them; interestingly, Māori caregivers reported more support from key personnel compared with non-Māori. Some caregivers expressed concern about the possibility of prosecution. In some cases where bullying was an issue they felt that schools had failed to create a safe place, yet they were the ones who could be prosecuted for not being able to keep a young person at school. A number of caregivers expressed concerns around bullying and the ways in which this prevented young people from attending school. The caregivers interviewed for this study raised some significant issues regarding access of support for themselves and young people in their care. It is recommended that further research be undertaken to explore caregivers’ perspectives in greater detail. The second area requiring further investigation is bullying intervention and prevention strategies, particularly links to truancy and non-enrolment. This research suggests that where bullying wasn’t addressed in schools, young people became disengaged. It is also recommended that schools reconsider the ways in which they are communicating with caregivers in order to meet their requirements in this area, and to increase the likelihood of productive engagement.

Bruce J, McCormack A (2018). Young people and caregivers’ perspectives on truancy and non-enrolment. Te Ora Hou Otautahi. Te Ora Hou Otautahi. Te Ora Hou Otautahi. 1-37.
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Fields of Research::45 - Indigenous studies::4508 - Mātauranga Māori (Māori education)::450808 - Te mātauranga kura tuarua Māori (Māori secondary education)
Fields of Research::45 - Indigenous studies::4508 - Mātauranga Māori (Māori education)::450809 - Te whai wāhi ākonga me ngā mahi whakaako o te Māori (Māori student engagement and teaching)
Fields of Research::39 - Education::3904 - Specialist studies in education::390412 - Teacher and student wellbeing
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