September 24, 2008
Parents of More Than 200 Kids Fined Over Truancy
By Lucy Wilson EDUCATION REPORTER
PARENTS of more than 200 Coventry and Warwickshire pupils were fined for letting their children miss school last year.
Education welfare staff sent the pounds 50 fines to parents who allowed their youngsters take time off or failed to stop them playing truant.
Parents who didn't pay within the six week time limit saw the fine rise to pounds 100. Those who still didn't pay were taken to court.
The number includes those parents who took their children on unauthorised holidays in term time, a practice that schools have been keen to stamp down on.
Others have children who missed school because they don't get on with classmates, struggle with work or have family problems.
In Coventry there were 132 sets of parents fined in the school year from September 2007.
Colin Green, Coventry City Council's director of children, learning and young people, said: "We want all children and young people to have 100 per cent school attendance so they can get the maximum benefit from the educational and other opportunitiesthat schools offer.
"I very much regret that any parents are fined because of their children's non-attendance at school but we have to use sanctions where, in spite of the best efforts of schools, education welfare officers and others, parents do not ensure their childrenattend school."
In Warwickshire there were 71 sets of parents fined, 64 of whom were of secondary school-aged children. Many were fined as a result of a clampdown on family holidays in term time.
A Warwickshire County Council spokesman said: "As a local authority we will always seek to work with a parent and their child on a co-operative basis before resorting to legal options.
"If there are specific difficulties or mitigating circumstances we will investigate these, and we will often work with the child's school to overcome problems.
"However school is a vital part of most children's lives, and regular attendance is essential for them to achieve and to do well in later life."
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
All children of school age must go to school unless they are provided with an alternative education by parents or private tutors.
If children miss long periods of school they can lose their place on the school roll.
Sometimes, instead of issuing a pounds 50 fine, the authorities decide to take parents who don't send their children to school to court. The fines are much larger and the most serious offenders can be sent to prison.
Head teachers can give parents permission to take their children out of school for up to 10 days per school year.
Schools risk a poor inspection grade if their pupils miss too much school.
Children are more likely to play truant because they are struggling to make friends, cope with the work or deal with family problems than taking time off to enjoy themselves.
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