Truancy powers flawed

Britain’s biggest parent support charity has warned the government
that there are not enough good quality parent support services in
the UK to underpin parenting contracts and orders which have come
into force for truancy or school exclusion.

Parentline Plus which runs a 24-hour government-funded help-line
for parents has stated that parent support services are not good or
extensive enough to meet the requirements of the new legislation,
or to help parents at an earlier stage.

Schools and local education authorities can now ask parents of
truants and children with behaviour problems to sign parenting
contracts with the school, agreeing to attend parenting courses.

If parents won’t co-operate local education authorities can apply
to magistrate’s courts for civil parenting orders if a child has
been excluded twice for misbehaviour.

The parent would be required to attend a parenting course or some
other form of counselling or guidance, which could include a
residential programme.

Councils and schools will also have powers to issue fixed penalty
fines of £100 to parents whose children miss school without
good reason.

The government has also said it will pilot fixed penalty fines for
16 and 17 year olds and eventually introduce fines for under-16s,
which parents will have to pay.

Parentline Plus says that the “implicitly punitive” measures risk
further alienating parents and create great mistrust between
parents and schools, as well as placing extra demands on an
“already stretched and under-resourced service”.

LEAs are implementing the measures gradually. Parentline Plus is
calling for consultation with parents and guaranteed quality
assurance of services before implementation.

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