Parents face £100 truancy fines

POLICE have joined the bid to clamp down on the spiralling epidemic of truancy in Suffolk.Schools in the county which have significant numbers of students with attendance records of less than 80 per cent will be targeted in a new get-tough scheme launched by the constabulary.

POLICE have joined the bid to clamp down on the spiralling epidemic of truancy in Suffolk.

Schools in the county which have significant numbers of students with attendance records of less than 80 per cent will be targeted in a new get-tough scheme launched by the constabulary.

The move follows the recent introduction of fixed penalty notices of up to £100 for parents whose children bunk lessons.

The stricter stance follows the publication of statistics earlier this year which revealed Suffolk has the highest percentage of unauthorised absences from secondary and middle schools in the East of England.

Worryingly, the county's truancy levels increased between 2004/5 and 2005/6.

Police have already been involved in truancy sweeps in Ipswich, during which officers quizzed youths on why they were not at school.

Most Read

Suffolk County Council claims 60 per cent of absences are known about by children's parents.

Education bosses have also highlighted research suggesting young people who play truant are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. Two-thirds (65pc) of truants offend, compared to less than a third (30pc) of those who have not.

The £50 fixed penalty notices, which increase to £100 if not paid within 28 days, will be issued where a pupil:

has taken holiday during term-time and the absence is not authorised by the school

is stopped with parents/carers during a truancy sweep and the absence is not authorised by the school

has missed at least five school days due to unauthorised absence in a school term

Patricia O'Brien, the Suffolk county councillor with responsibility for children, schools and young people's services, said: “Schools, supported by the council's behaviour and attendance service, work hard with individual pupils and parents to reduce unauthorised absences from school.

“In a few large secondary schools there is a relatively small group of pupils who attend up to only eight out of every ten days they should be at school.

“This is of course seriously damaging to their education, and therefore their future prospects. The government is right to make such pupils a priority, working in partnership with the council, schools and the police.

“I would emphasise that the criteria the government uses for identifying schools includes all absences, so that sickness, holidays taken by the family in term time and fixed-term exclusions from school all add to the numbers.”

Do you agree with the fines? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter