Tags: Behaviour | Curriculum Manager | Financial management | Headteacher | Parent | Parental Involvement | Teaching & Learning | Truanting

Schools with ‘serial truants’ have been told to take harsh action to stamp out the problem. Schools Minister Jacqui Smith has announced an intensive drive against the 146 secondary schools with an estimated 8,000 serial truants between them, who together account for one in five of all instances of truancy nationally.

These schools are being told to put parents of serial truants straight on to the ‘Fast Track to Attendance’ scheme where an automatic court prosecution will be triggered unless their child’s attendance improves over a 12-week period, normally resulting in a fine of up to £2,500 or three months imprisonment. Each truant will also be assigned to a truancy officer, who together with the truant’s parents, will work on an individual action plan to improve their school attendance.

The new measures were announced as statistics were released showing that truancy rates have risen. But the average time lost per pupil has fallen from two weeks to seven days since 1997, showing that progress is being made in the drive to crack down on unauthorised absence from school.

Holiday curb Many absences are down to parents taking their children on holiday during term time. So the Government has joined forces with the travel industry to enable them to offer discounts and other incentives such as free child places to families making early bookings for school holiday periods, in a bid to clamp down on holiday absenteeism.

At the same time, the National Union of Teachers published a charter on pupil behaviour for its members. ‘This Charter offers a way to try to ensure that every member of the school community can teach and learn free from fear of physical or verbal abuse or bullying,’ said NUT General Secretary Steve Sinnott. Such factors are often the trigger for truancy. See: www.nut.org.uk

This article first appeared in Curriculum Management Update, Oct 2005

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