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Major increase in parents prosecuted over child truancy

The number of parents in England being prosecuted for their child skipping school has increased dramatically in the last year, new figures have revealed. 

According to Ministry of Justice figures, obtained through an FoI request by the Press Association, in 2014 16,430 people were prosecuted for failing to ensure their children went to school. This was an increase of more than 3,000 - or 25% - compared to 2013. 

It was revealed that 12,479 people were found guilty of truancy offences, with 9,214 fines, averaging £172, issued by courts. The figures also show the number of people sent to prison more than doubled, with 18 given custodial sentences in 2014, up from seven the year before. 

Responding to the figures, Cllr David Simmonds CBE, Local Government Association spokesman, said: “Evidence shows that persistent truancy damages a child's life chances and across the country councils are supporting both children and their families to overcome barriers that could be preventing a child from regularly attending school. 

“While councils will support parents as much as possible, if they refuse to get their children to school, fines may be issued and ultimately court action will be taken. We believe that the rise in court action and fines issued reflects a rapidly rising school population and tighter enforcement by schools that are under pressure from Ofsted to meet attendance targets.” 

The rise follows a crackdown on children missing school, including new rules on term-time holidays, which were introduced two years ago. 

A Department for Education spokesperson added: “ Our evidence shows missing the equivalent of just one week a year from school can mean a child is a quarter less likely to achieve good GCSE grades, having a lasting effect on their life chances. 

“Heads and teachers are now firmly back in charge of their classrooms, and most recent figures show we have made real progress - with 200,000 fewer pupils regularly missing school compared with five years ago.”


P.Foyster   14/08/2015 at 10:33

There is a vast difference between planned absences for family holidays and other types of truancy. This should be a matter for Heads to have discretion, not for national law. Each case is different. Considerable hardship can be caused, valuable family interaction prevented and educational opportunities lost by over heavy state interference in matters that are not their natural responsibility.

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