Recently, the city of Derby had a crackdown on truancy. During the first sweep of the ‘blitz’, a total of 4 parents were put in jail and nearly a half-dozen others were given suspended sentences. This blitz comes on the heels of a 30% increase in truancy over last year. The Derby City Council had a total of 87 parents taken to court due to the truancy of their children during the 2013-2014 school year. The previous year there were 67 total cases. Truancy seems to be on the rise and according to Fareed Hussein, city councilor on education, parents who allow their children to violate truancy laws will face serious consequences.
Some parents were handed a 6-week prison sentence by the magistrate, most of those due to a repeated offense and/or breach of suspended sentence. Fine were also imposed and ranged from £36 to £200. Other sentences included parenting orders, community or supervision orders, and a number of conditional discharges. The maximum sentence for a parent with a truant child is up to 3 months in jail and a fine of as much as £2,500.
Truancy officers began conducting sweeps to monitor children not in school and find out why. During the first sweep on September 9th, up to a total of 17 children were stopped and questioned about their absence from school. Most did have an accompanying adult. There will be additional sweeps and any child without a good reason for being absent will be promptly returned to school or another agreed upon safe place.
The government records the numbers of those children they consider to be persistent absentees, those who missed 15% of their classes or the equivalent of 38 half days of school. Between Autumn of 2012 and Spring of 2013, there were 1,964 students who fell into this category. In the fall of 2013, there were a total of 1,875 and these students missed the equivalent of 56 or more half-days of school.
Schools employ a number of measures to deter absence including phone calls and meetings with parents, and for the most part these measures are effective. Still, there are a few parents who allow their children to miss far too much school and more extreme measures have to be taken including taking those parents to court. The only permissible reasons for a child to be absent are due to illness or if their parents have obtained special permission from the school ahead of time.
It has been proven that excess absences have a huge negative impact on the students’ progress in school and the results that they will achieve. For this reason , it is of vital importance that students miss as little school as possible. By employing different ways to assist parents and even pursuing legal action when necessary, school officials say positive results are already being seen. Between these actions and the truancy sweeps, school attendance in Derbyshire has seen a marked improvement with the percentage of children missing school in Derby now being below the national average. Making sure children have good school attendance goes a long way towards ensuring they have the education they so vitally need.