The Fast Track scheme to reduce school truancy improves
attendance in half of cases where it is used, but improvements are
mostly temporary, according to new Government research.
A DfES study looked at 12 local education authorities that
deployed Fast Track, which gives parents 12 weeks to ensure that
their child attends school regularly, or face prosecution.
School attendance increased for about half of 484 cases, but
after the family left the programme, attendance declined in 56 per
cent of cases and improved in 37 per cent.
There was an average increase of half a day a week back in
school per child during Fast Track, but after the scheme ended,
about half of the improvement in attendance rates disappeared.
Meeting with parents, letters and pastoral support seemed to
make the scheme more effective, but home visits and panel
attendances were associated with fewer improvements in
Fast track was noted as possibly more effective in cases of less
severe, newly emerging non-attendance, where complex social issues
did not affect the family.
Entrenched non-attendance was often associated with other issues
the family situation, and Fast Track was seen as less effective
The study also finds that LEAs implementing the scheme thought
that the workload was a problem.