RIGHT CONNECTION: University of the Sunshine Coast’s Carol Smith is an education lecturer
RIGHT CONNECTION: University of the Sunshine Coast’s Carol Smith is an education lecturer File

It only takes one teacher to keep a student connected

ONE teacher is all it takes to make a difference.

That was the reassurance from University of the Sunshine Coast education expert Carol Smith.

The education lecturer said a connection between a teacher and a student could help curb a disinterest in schooling.

Ms Smith said it was imperative to remember truancy figures needed to be looked at as not just as numbers on a page, but as individual students with individual needs.

She said every child was different.

"We need to look at why absences are happening. This is not the first time - this has been happening for years," Ms Smith said.

"There is no single solution to this. For individuals it does affect their ability to learn, it does affect their self-esteem when they are not able to keep up and it affects their whole sense of wellbeing in the future."

Ms Smith said a relationship between teachers and parents was important, but when that failed and a child became disengaged with learning it was up to a teacher, a school and a community to motivate them back to learning.

"We can't change the values in society and we can't change the way a society thinks, but teachers can work with what they have around them and teach kids to value education," she said.

"It might be the one thing that breaks the cycle. If one person in a family that has never valued education suddenly starts engaging, it could further that child's opportunities well into the future.

"We can be there at school creating a love for learning."

She said it was important for students to know their teachers were their advocate.

"When there is a relationship between a teacher and a student and it's a healthy relationship based on respect and learning, the kids know you have their back, but you have drawn the line as well," Ms Smith said.

She said with the right mentor, it was not uncommon to see a total turnaround from students with poor behaviour and attendance.