War declared on truants' parents

DOZENS of parents who allow their children to skip school have been warned that unauthorised classroom absence will soon be punished with a fine.Suffolk is the last county in the UK to introduce the use of fixed penalty notices for non-permitted leave from school.

DOZENS of parents who allow their children to skip school have been warned that unauthorised classroom absence will soon be punished with a fine.

Suffolk is the last county in the UK to introduce the use of fixed penalty notices for non-permitted leave from school.

The notices, which carry a penalty of £50 and are applicable in the county as of September 1, have come into force after Anti-Social Behaviour legislation gave local authorities additional powers under the Education Act.

In a bid to get the message across, a truancy crackdown was staged in Ipswich throughout yesterday with 15 education welfare officers and ten police officers sweeping through the town centre.

Parents found wandering the streets with children of school age were questioned and informed about fixed penalty notices. Their details were then taken and checks were made to ascertain whether the absence was authorised or not.

Worrying figures released earlier this year revealed Suffolk has the highest percentage of unauthorised absences from secondary and middle schools in the East of England, and that figure has increased between 2004/5 and 2005/6.

Most Read

Nearly 60 per cent of these absences were known about by the youngsters' parents.

Christine Armes, a county council education welfare officer, said: “What has surprised us was the number of parents who supported these youngsters missing school.

“They would not challenge their children, they just gave in and allowed it.

“Attendance figures for Suffolk have not been good in the past, but we are gradually getting the message across.

“I know parents are not going to like it but I'm hoping penalty notices will have an effect.

“Most adults we stop say they are glad we are doing the sweep because they don't think it's right children are roaming the streets and getting into trouble.

“They say children should be in school.”

Is enough being done to combat truancy in Suffolk? 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