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Suffolk: Calls for tougher sanctions for parents of pupils playing truant as low conviction rate revealed

PUBLISHED: 16:29 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:29 17 February 2014

Parents of persistently truant schoolchildren in Suffolk should face tougher punishments, it was claimed last night, after it emerged many were escaping court sanctions.

Parents of persistently truant schoolchildren in Suffolk should face tougher punishments, it was claimed last night, after it emerged many were escaping court sanctions.

Parents of persistently truant schoolchildren in Suffolk should face tougher punishments, it was claimed last night, after it emerged many were escaping court sanctions.

Figures unveiled under Freedom of Information laws showed 83 parents in the county were convicted for failing to ensure their children attended school in 2010/11.

But 5,100 pupils were described as being persistently absent in the same year by the Department for Education, meaning for both authorised and unauthorised reasons they lost at least 15% of their teaching time.

Some 4,790 pupils were persistently absent in the following year, with 106 parents convicted for failing to ensure their child’s attendance in that year.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said stronger court sanctions may be necessary in some cases.

Coalition government ministers have pressed for the threshold for what qualifies as persistent truancy to be further lowered, meaning more parents would be in line for sanctions.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also previously suggested cutting the benefits of parents who allow their children to routinely skip school.

Mr White said: “We must remedy the reasons why pupils are not going to school in the first place, but I accept sending parents to court, which is a last resort, or calling for tougher sanctions could be necessary in some cases where parents absolutely refuse to send their children to school.”

Pupil attendance statistics are unavailable for 2012/13. However, there were 140 convictions.

Magistrates gained new powers to deal with the parents of truant children in 2000, when the maximum fine they could impose rose from £1,000 to £2,500.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said the authority works with schools, parents and pupils to root out problems which cause truancy before it “gets out of hand”.

Since September 2012, headteachers have been able to impose a £60 spot fine on parents, rising to £120 if unpaid. This compares to £50 previously.

3 comments

  • And another thing..... How is it the parents fault when they deliver their little bundles of joy to school.. The register THEN go hooky... Er schools fault not parents seeing as they were in the care of the school when then went walkies. But hey ho thats todays pampering society for you

    Report this comment

    Mr cynical

    Monday, February 17, 2014

  • Im sorry for appearing stupid here. When i was at school, play truant got cane simple Now play truant.... Get suspended for a week Well excuse me but the kid was play truant they DIDNT WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL how is suspending them and giving in to there wants a punishment. Maybe if i break a few windows i will get a playstation.

    Report this comment

    Mr cynical

    Monday, February 17, 2014

  • Many ways in which to read this story. First, if a child is not going to school it can't be the parent held responsible in all cases. If a parent is driving their child to school and dropping them outside the gates what more could they do to ensure they don't skip out? Frog march them into the classroom? The parents also have no control over the kids who walk to school themselves. Again, should the parent walk with them? And in that case I thought the government wanted kids to walk to be healthy! If however this is an issue of a parent not sending a child to school then that is an issue to be addressed. That said, is it mandatory for children to go to school or is it just available for them? I guess the overall issue is the time a teacher needs to spend catching up the truants. Well just stick them all in one separate class and be done with it. No interruption to the kids who go. At the end of the day I don't want to see parents being punished when they've tried their best!

    Report this comment

    Chris Church

    Monday, February 17, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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