Targeting attendance in Kaikohe (left to right): Liz Marsden, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services GM, Attendance Officer Keryn Bristow and TTAS Manager Carina Aiken.

Two new Social Sector Trials initiatives target attendance among a lingering minority of Kaikohe students by taking broader approaches to the issue. The Kaikohe Youth Action Plan commits to creating a marae-based whanau-orientated program, and a new integrated community truancy plan.

Two separate marae-based programs take a whanau-wide approach to supporting attendance. The first, held at Kaikohe West School last week, targeted year 6 to 8 students.

Carina Aiken, Tai Tokerau Attendance Service (TTAS) Manager at Ngapuhi Iwi Social Services, says research indicates disengagement from education often presents initially in this age group. The program focuses on developing resilience, confidence, and self-esteem, while also reaching the whanau. A young person’s commitment to education usually reflects the commitment demonstrated by their family.

On 30 June Kohewhata Marae will host young people currently disengaged from education. Aiken says these students might have simply stopped going to school (for some, before they were old enough to do so), they might have moved to Kaikohe and not enrolled here, or been excluded from a school and never re-engaged.

Each young person will be accompanied by at least 4 family members. The coordinators reflected on the intention behind the Action Plan initiative: ‘it’s vital to engage as many people as possible to support the transition back into education. It’s not just about the support in place, but trying to honor and recognise the meaning of ‘whanau’’.

The Kohewhata marae program will focus on inspiring the young people, reinforcing the importance of education and training, and inspiring their whanau. Young people will develop a personal education plan drafted with their whanau, and with professionals. Attendance Service officers will monitor the plans and provide further support if required. Young people will also receive personalised education packs of back-to-school essentials, like uniform items or school bags.

Carina Aiken has also been developing a new integrated community truancy plan. It will involve re-invigorating the public advertising program, but focuses on advising what members of the public should do if they see young people out of school.

Aiken says ‘the Attendance Service relies on referrals from schools or the Ministry of Education; we don’t walk the streets anymore. We work with young people to understand their circumstance, and assist them to re-engage fully.’ She says members of the public should call the relevant school if possible, in the first instance.

The Tai Tokerau Attendance Service achieves low rates of repeat referrals, compared nationally. The repeat referral rate from Northland College is 12% below the national average of 32%. This represents a high quality of service provision that puts the local situation on the best side of the ledger and creates confidence in the referral process.

About the Kaikohe Social Sector Trials and the Kaikohe Youth Action Plan

The Kaikohe Social Sector Trial aims to deliver better outcomes for youth. The Kaikohe Youth Action Plan was consulted in Kaikohe in 2013 and features a series of 46 milestone actions to be delivered by specified dates, and each of which contributes to better outcomes for youth in Kaikohe

The Social Sector Trial is a sector wide program that creates opportunities for cross-agency collaboration and addressing local barriers in service delivery to youth. Trial leads are able to reconfigure existing relevant contracts, purchase new services, and implement new processes to better reflect the specific needs of people in their communities.

About Te Pae Aronga Taitamariki (Kaikohe Social Sector Trials contract holder)

Te Pae Aronga Taitamariki is a tripartite joint venture formed in 2012 comprised of Otāngarei Trust based in Whangarei, Ngāpuhi Iwi Social Services based out of Kaikohe and Youth Horizons based in Auckland. The joint venture was established to formalise a working relationship between the three parties to share clinical, cultural and local expertise, knowledge and experience.