Truancy scheme extended

The government has confirmed it is expanding its Fast Track to Attendance programme to target over 10,000 serial truants who account for one in five of all instances of truancy across the country.

The truants’ parents will face fixed penalty notices or court prosecution unless their child’s attendance improves.

Initially targeting 8,000 pupils, the Fast Track to Attendance scheme will now expand to target over 10,000 this year and parents of persistent truants will be placed immediately on the scheme.

The Department for Education and Skills has also developed the Every Lesson Counts scheme in conjunction with the Association of British Travel Agents, the Federation of Tour Operators and VisitBritain.

Under the scheme, parents could obtain discounts and free child places on family breaks taken during the school, holidays in a bid to tackle absence from schools.

Among the deals for next year’s summer holidays are:

• Up to £1,000 saving per adult on BA Holidays’ 2006 Florida Summer holiday with one child staying free

• First child goes free for selected summer 2006 family holidays with Airtours

• First child goes free at Butlins holiday resorts.

Schools minister Jacqui Smith said: “I am pleased to have the support of the travel industry in encouraging parents to book early for the school holiday periods, so that they can take a break without disrupting their children’s education.”

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