Plea to par­ents to help com­bat rise in tru­ancy

For­eign trips dur­ing term time one of the fac­tors caus­ing low at­ten­dace at city schools as more than 600 par­ents fined for the poor record of their chil­dren at some city schools

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Special Report - By Stephenbriggs stephen.briggs@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ twit­ter: @ Ptstephenb 01733 588734

Fam­i­lies are putting their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion at risk by tak­ing them abroad dur­ing term time, it has been claimed.

A higher num­ber of pupils from Peter­bor­ough a relisted as be­ing per­sis­tently ab­sent with­out per­mis­sion from school, and now ed­u­ca­tion chiefs in the city are keen to re­duce the num­ber of chil­dren who reg­u­larly miss lessons.

Parn­well Pri­mary School was sin­gled out as hav­ing a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem, with 15.9 per cent of pupils miss­ing 15 per cent of the school year - equiv­a­lent to six weeks - com­pared to a na­tional av­er­age of 5.2 per cent of pri­mary school pupils in 2010 - 2011. Peter­bor­ough as a whole saw an av­er­age of 5.3 per cent of pupils with per­sis­tent ab­sences.

In the same year more than 18 per cent of chil­dren at the Voy­ager School - now known as the Voy­ager Academy - had six weeks or more off, com­paredto a na­tional sec­on­day school av­er­age of un­der 10 per cent.

Coun­cil­lor John Holdich Cab­i­net Mem­ber for Ed­u­ca­tion, Skills and Univer­sity said:” Ab­sence fig­ures are not helped by city par­ents tak­ing their chil­dren on hol­i­day dur­ing term time.

“It is fur­ther com­pli­cated be­cause of the cul­tural state of the city. Some par­ents think they can take their chil­dren back to their coun­try of ori­gin dur­ing term time.

“This dis­rupts school and has a neg­a­tive im­pact on that child’s ed­u­ca­tion.

“Schools are work­ing hard and the lo­cal author­ity is work­ing hard to tackle this, but I am never com­pla­cent.

“There may be a num­ber of rea­sons why chil­dren are off school, such as health or be­hav­iour is­sues, and there needs to be a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The is­sue was raised at a meet­ing of the Cre­at­ing Op­por­tu­ni­ties and Tack­ling ine- qual­i­ties Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee at which Coun­cil­lor John Shear­man asked: “Are you do­ing any­thing with re­gards to at­ten­dance?”

The coun­cil’s as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for chil­dren’s ser­vices Jonathan Lewis said: “The at­ten­dance team is work­ing across t he city at all schools to find the best ways to tackle the is­sue.

“We have an obli­ga­tion to take le­gal ac­tion, and about 60 per cent of the pros­e­cu­tions work in im­prov­ing at­ten­dances.”

Last year 624 fam­i­lies were fined £ 60 be­cause chil­dren were ab­sent from school. There were also 60 pros­e­cu­tions in court for per­sis­tent ab­sen­teeism, and 36 for fail­ure to pay the fine.

The Voy­ager had 18 per cent of pupils ab­sent from school for six weeks or more in 2010/ 11.

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