Truancy sweep catches 49 out of class in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 09:43 18 December 2014

Members of the council teams in Ipswich Town Centre taking part in the truancy sweep in the town talk a to a parent and their child. Photograph Simon Parker

Members of the council teams in Ipswich Town Centre taking part in the truancy sweep in the town talk a to a parent and their child. Photograph Simon Parker


Nearly 50 truants were found in a sweep across Ipswich's shopping centres by police and county council welfare officers.

Council boss calls for parents to take more responsibility

Cabinet member for education and skills Lisa Chambers joined the professionals on the sweep.

She said: “Ensuring children attend school during term time is imperative in raising attainment.

“A child with a 90% school attendance record misses the equivalent to half a year of secondary school.

“Young people really need to attend school and be in a learning environment every day.

“As a busy parent, I understand the pressures.

“However, the council has a responsibility towards the safeguarding of every child in Suffolk.”

Mrs Chambers was disappointed that the number of children playing truant had gone up over the last year – and felt parents needed to take more responsibility.

She said: “It might seem like just one day near the end of term, but children need to go to school every day possible.

“If students are at school for 94% of the time or more they can expect to get five good GCSEs. Below that their chances fall off significantly. All parents should understand the importance of school for their children.”

She said it was also very important to ensure children and young teenagers were safe – there was a world of difference between a 14-year-old heading into town with his or her friends on a Saturday with their parents knowing where they were and playing truant alone when he or she should be at school.

Teams swooped across the town in a bid to find youngsters playing truant or being taken Christmas shopping before the end of term.

A total of 49 youngsters who should have been at school were found – up from 43 in a similar sweep just before last Christmas.

This year two youngsters were taken straight back to school and a further nine are to be given fixed penalty tickets.

Three were from outside Suffolk and their details were sent to their home authorities, and the remaining 35 were confirmed as absent from school without permission and the school authorities will consider what action to take against the youngsters or their parents.

Council official Nigel Shaddick said the sweep was organised because it was known that some parents did not think it was worthwhile sending their children to school for the last days of term before Christmas.

Mr Shaddick said: “It is important for their education that the students attend school until the very end of term – we carried out a similar operation this time last year and found a significant number out of class.

“It is also a safeguarding issue – we want to ensure youngsters are in a safe environment.”

The team spent about three and a half hours in Ipswich – some were in the town centre while others were at major retail parks at Ransomes and Copdock Mill.

We joined one team in the town centre as they looked for truants in the main shopping area.

One teenager was found in McDonalds in Tavern Street. He was checked and it was realised he should be in school so a police van was called to escort him back to classes.

Further along, in Carr Street, a young child was spotted apparently with his father. His details were taken for his school to be contacted to establish whether he had a valid reason to be out of class.

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