Twigg to get tougher on truants’ parents

Schools minister Stephen Twigg has promised a crackdown on a
hardcore of “serial truants” after official figures
showed a rise in unauthorised absence from school.

17,000 more students regularly attended school last year than in
2002/3 and there has been an increase of 40,000 since Labour took
power, said Mr Twigg. This was largely due to a reduction in
authorized absences, such as dental or medical appointments during
school hours.

However, unauthorised absences – truancy,  severe lateness
or non-agreed holidays – showed an increase of 380,000 pupil days
last year. This is despite a raft of measures including more
parental prosecutions, spot fines, and truancy sweeps.

Mr Twigg said the figures also showed that only 2 per cent of
secondary school pupils were responsible for almost half of
unauthorised absences, and pledged a crackdown on “serial

Parents who had genuine problems getting their children to
school would be given support, but there would be tough sanctions
for those who simply refused, he said.

The DfES is to set “challenging” new targets to help
LEAs reduce absenteeism, and schools in areas with high truancy
rates will be given help from Attendance Consultants

“A stubborn minority of pupils, often with parental
collusion, remain determined to jeopardize their education and
their futures through persistent truancy,” said Mr Twigg.
“We will not hesitate to support schools and LEAs that use
sanctions such as prosecution and penalty fines for those parents
who are simply unwilling to get their children into

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