Minister wants new truancy crackdown

Schools minister Stephen Twigg has promised to tackle the
hardcore of “serial truants” after official figures showed a rise
in unauthorised absences from school.

Some 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 Twigg. This was largely due to a reduction
in authorised 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 was despite a raft of measures including more parental
prosecutions, spot fines, and truancy sweeps.

Twigg said the figures also showed that only 2 per cent of
secondary school pupils were responsible for almost half of
unauthorised absences.

“A stubborn minority of pupils, often with parental collusion,
remain determined to jeopardise their education and their futures
through persistent truancy,” said 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 school.”

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