4,500 Suffolk parents fined over their child’s school absenteeism in a year

Police helping out in truancy sweep

Police helping out in truancy sweep - Credit: Archant � 2009

The number of fines issued to parents whose children have failed to attend Suffolk schools has soared to more than 4,500 in the last year, new county council figures have revealed.

The 13-fold increase in £60 fixed penalty notices, from 338 to 4,509, has come after 70 mothers and fathers from across the county were taken to court over their youngsters’ absenteeism earlier this month.

Some of the children involved were at primary schools.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said school attendance in Suffolk is improving overall and there is a comprehensive strategy in place to make sure the upward trend continues.

However, he confirmed the number of cases going to court has increased over the past 12 months.

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This is linked to a rise in the number of requests by schools for the county council to issue fixed penalty notices.

A spokesman for the county council added: “Ensuring children attend school during term time is imperative in raising attainment.

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“A child with a 90% school attendance record misses the equivalent to half a year of secondary school over five years. Young people really need to attend school and be in a learning environment every day.

“For this reason, schools and authorities take the issue of children failing to attend school regularly very seriously and this rise in the number of fixed penalty notices issued by schools demonstrates that there is greater a challenge by schools to parents and carers who fail to send their children to school.

“There are of course circumstances where children cannot attend school, due to sickness, but in term time it is the responsibility of parents and carers to ensure their children go to school.

“School headteachers are taking a rigorous approach and making use of Fixed Penalty Notices where other interventions have not worked to get children into schools.

“The council is working in partnership with schools to support them in both increasing school attendance and in raising the attainment for all children in Suffolk ”

The authority, through the county attendance team, encourages an early intervention process in relation to truancy and the underlying issues for lateness or attendance are scrutinised.

Each case considered for court is then reviewed and the evidence evaluated against the known issues with the family involved.

Other factors involving non-attendance which can also lead to a court appearance include Education Supervision Orders and School Attendance Orders.

Last week it was revealed that penalty notices for parents whose children took term time holidays rose from 256 to 2,736.

Parents and carers are advised to maintain good communications with the school and follow the points below to support their children at school.

Check the school’s attendance policy.

Ask whether the absence is going to be authorised or not.

Try to make appointments out of school hours.

Maintain a dialogue with the school around any issues that may cause your child to be unable to attend school

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