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
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.