Row over truant fines

MORE than 100 fines and nearly 1,000 warning letters have been issued to parents in Suffolk whose children have played truant in just a six-month period, it can be revealed.

MORE than 100 fines and nearly 1,000 warning letters have been issued to parents in Suffolk whose children have played truant in just a six-month period, it can be revealed.

Local authorities were handed new powers from September last year to hit parents in the pocket for their child's unauthorised absence from school.

Since then, Suffolk County Council has issued 109 fixed penalty notices to parents whose children persistently play truant.

In addition, the authority handed out 943 warning letters before resorting to a fixed penalty notice - 558 of which were as a result of a child taking an unauthorised holiday during term time.


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Education bosses say it is too early to say whether fixed penalty notices are becoming a major deterrent - but some schools are already reporting positive feedback.

Rosalind Turner, the council's director for children and young people, said: “The majority of parents respond positively to letters advising them of the need for regular attendance, but some need further persuasion.

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“It is too early to say whether this additional measure is having a major impact, but some schools tell us that it is definitely having a positive effect.

“It is vital that parents realise the importance of regular attendance to their children's long term development.”

But Parentline Plus insisted punitive measures do not work and only add to a parent's anxieties.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “We know from our research that there are many complex issues around why children play truant, and parents panicked by fines and the threat of imprisonment are not being given the skills and support they need to stop their children truanting.”

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