Striving for success

Dylan* had just turned 15 when he moved out of home and in with a group of older friends.

A short time later, he began working with them on a dairy farm and stopped going to school. 

When Safer Ashburton’s Attendance Service coordinator first learnt about Dylan, they thought it could be difficult for him to re-engage with education because he had a job and had become quite independent. His mother had also become ill in the previous year, making it more difficult for his father to supervise his school attendance. Overall, the family did not place a high value on education and were initially reluctant to engage with the Attendance Service. 

However, when Dylan finally agreed to meet the coordinator, they discovered he wasn’t enjoying farm work and aspired to join the army. To do this, he would need to achieve NCEA Level 1.

The Attendance Service coordinator spends 22 days with each of their clients to re-engage them with school or an alternative education provider. Generally, they have about 25 open cases at any given time. Students are all aged between 5-16 years old, which are the years that young people must legally attend school. Most of the service’s clients are primary school age. 

To help Dylan transition back into school life, the coordinator met with his school dean to discuss his return to school and what he needed to do to catch up on the work he had missed. The coordinator also worked with Dylan to enrol him with the school bus service in his area. They say he became one of the most organised and motivated students that they have worked with. 

Following his participation with the Attendance Service, Dylan moved back home and continued to improve his attendance and academic achievement, with the ultimate goal of completing NCEA Level 1. 

Dylan’s father said he noticed a complete turnaround in his son’s attitude towards education and his future. He said his own opinion of the value of education had changed and he spoke positively to the coordinator about the importance of educational achievement for students.


*Names and photos have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals.