Truancy policy is a complete nonsense
Congratulations on your article by Chris Taylor (0-19, May, page
10) and his perceptive condemnation of a policy which would rather
see mothers banged up in Holloway than seriously, intelligently and
humanely consider the relationships between schooling, parenting
Nobody should have been surprised that, effectively, prison
didn’t work for Patricia Amos, although one can only be
astonished that a local authority – any local authority – could not
find within itself means of providing an education which
didn’t involve such a useless, pointless and draconian
Nor should we be surprised at Chris’s lucid accounts of
his, and his friends’, rational decision to truant. How
resonant his words when he talks about there being a problem for
all young people “expected to sit through lessons which they
experience as unstimulating and unlikely to teach them useful
What is truly shocking is the near-absence anywhere across the
political or decision-making spectrum of any resounding criticism
of the policy of imprisoning parents, nor of the outright rejection
that such a “solution to truancy” deserves. The government has made
some important improvements to the lives of some children. What a
tragedy it has failed, failed and failed again to make its schools
fit to teach all our children.
Incidentally, should a child in care – whose legal parent is the
local authority – persistently truant, who will be sent to prison:
the director of children’s services? The director of
education? Her or his head teacher or social worker? Or the leader
of the council?
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Please no cuts in needs statements
I was shocked to read that the government is planning to reduce
the number of special educational needs statements (0-19, May,
A statement means that a child is guaranteed the support he or
she needs. Without a statement it’s all left to chance and
depends on where you live, how much money your council puts aside
for SEN children, what your school management is like, and on your
relationship with your child’s teacher.
My child has a statement which includes speech and language
support. This means the health authority has to provide this.
Without a statement, how could the school or his parents ensure
that he got it?
I suspect this is a way of cutting the cost of support to
disabled children, however it is dressed up in the language of
inclusion. It will be children who suffer.
Congratulate the government
Those who protest at government proposals to pay educational
maintenance allowances to 16 to 18 year olds who continue with
their education should look at the evidence (0-19, May, page
In the pilot authorities, the allowance made a big difference to
the number of young people from low income families staying in
education. Not only that, but it improved punctuality and
attendance, and their achievements.
Just the fact that they have to get a tutor to sign them in
every day creates opportunities for young people to talk about any
problems they are having with their studies, and to build a better
relationship with staff.
The government should be congratulated for extending this