Duncan Lewis

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Parents encouraging truancy will have to pay £60 spot fines for their wards

Date: (31 August 2012)    |    

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From next month, heads of schools will be able to issue parents with a £60 spot fine if they allow children to miss too much school, up from the £50 penalty introduced by the last government.
Ministers were considering a proposal to tie up fines from child benefit if parents fail to pay them.
It has been found that numbers of primary school pupils were playing truant with more than 23,000 skipping lessons each day of the spring term in the current year.
Parents who took their children on term-time holidays without permission were responsible for a fifth of ‘unauthorised absences’ recorded by primary schools.

A further 10 per cent of truancy was attributed to coming late while the rest was down to pupils failing to turn up without a proper excuse.

In the primary section truancy rates were slightly up on the same point the year before, with 0.7 per cent of school registration sessions missed between January and April, up from 0.6 per cent.

The figures have prompted ministers to launch a fresh crackdown.

The Government also plans to toughen up the rules on term-time holidays so that schools were permitted to allow them only in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Currently the heads have the discretion to grant up to ten days term-time holiday a year but the government was concerned that this power was being misused.

Many parents were tempted to avoid taking breaks during school holidays because prices were often higher during holiday season.

But at the same time if they failed to get the heads consent for term-time absence, the holiday was classed as unauthorised which attracts spot fine.

The latest figures has shown that agreed term-time holidays were reducing, which was encouraging, but term-time holidays still remain a significant reason for absence, a Department for Education official said.

If children were taken away for a two-week holiday every year and have availed an average number of days off for sickness and appointments, then by the time they were leaving at 16 they would have missed an entire year of schooling.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said that children who attend school regularly were four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and maths, than those who were persistently absent.

He said that the government was determined to tackle absence before it causes long-term disadvantage.

Charlie Taylor, the Government’s behaviour tsar, called on schools to instil good habits early on.

He said that the schools had to address the poor attendance of a pupil at the earliest or else there was more likelihood that it could become a long-term issue throughout their school life.

 

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