Adviser calls for tougher action on truancy
A government expert adviser has called for truancy fines to be taken from child benefit if parents do not pay them voluntarily.
Charlie Taylor made the controversial proposal after carrying out an independent review for the government on improving school attendance.
The government has accepted his recommendation that the fine headteachers can impose on parents who allow their children to miss too much school without a valid reason should rise by £10 to £60 from September. This will double to £120 if not paid within 28 days.
At the moment, if the parent has still not paid the fine after 42 days, the local authority has to withdraw the penalty notice or prosecute the parent. Charlie Taylor wants any such unpaid fines to be recoverable, either through child benefit or the county courts – an option the government says it will consider further.
Other recommendations focus on tackling truancy more effectively at primary school level so that children will be less inclined to truant when they are older. Charlie Taylor suggests that there should be less use of the word ‘truancy’ and that the government should focus instead on improving attendance, particularly for vulnerable pupils in primary schools.
He wants all primary schools to analyse their data on attendance so they can quickly pick up on children who are developing a pattern of absence, and to allow far fewer term-time holidays.
By David Gordon