Nottingham City Council is cracking down on truancy by carrying out patrols to ensure children are in school.
Truancy ‘hotspots’ across the city will be targeted by the council’s Education Welfare Service (EWOs) and Community Protection Officers (CPOs) supported by Nottinghamshire Police on Tuesday (26 September).
Any children found outside of school, may be taken back to school or their home address. Parents could be issued with a fixed penalty notice by the EWOs.
The council also wants people in the community to report children they see who should be in school by calling a hotline number – 0115 876 1949.
Fines of £60 per parent, per child are issued through the courts for unauthorised absence. If this is not paid in 21 days, the fine doubles to £120 per parent, per child. If the fine is still unpaid, courts can impose tougher fines (with court costs) of up to £1,000 – and even have the power to issue prison sentences.
The day of action is being supported by schools and academies, with Neighbourhood Development Officers and Community Protection Officers. It does not apply to children who are educated at home.
Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills at Nottingham City Council, said: “Our message is a strong one, but we have to be clear: children who are registered with a school need to be in that school – it’s the law.
“It’s not acceptable to be off school in term time, missing school can seriously harm your child’s education.
“We want all parents to be in no doubt that the City Council will take action when a child is persistently absent without agreement from the school.”
This tough stance on absence has so far helped to improve school attendance in Nottingham.
Recent figures from the Department for Education show persistence absence – defined as the proportion of pupils who have missed at least 10% of their school time – has fallen in Nottingham from 18.2% in 2012/13 to 11.6% in 2015/16. The city has also seen a drop in overall absences and is narrowing the gap on national schools significantly.
For the last academic year (September 2016 to end of July 2017), 315 penalty notices have been issued to parents in Nottingham for unauthorised absence. A total of 196 parents have been prosecuted.
All money from fines is ploughed back into school attendance programmes and initiatives. No parents in Nottingham City have so far been jailed.
Councillor Webster added: “We know that the majority of parents act responsibly to ensure their children are in school when they should be; but it is vital that we tackle those who are breaking the law.
“We also recognise that some children are educated at home. However, the vast majority of Nottingham pupils receive a school education, and for these pupils there is a legal requirement for parents to ensure their child attends school.
“Even a pupil with 90% attendance is effectively missing one day of school every two weeks. In the working world, that’s almost a month of absence every year.
“Most importantly, missing 17 days of school has been proved to be the difference between getting one higher grade at GCSE level – and that is crucial for our young people.”
Parents can help their child’s attendance at school by:
- Making sure their child gets to school on time
- Not booking holidays during term time
- Contacting the school the first day a child is off sick.
The day of action is part of a long-term action plan to improve school performance in Nottingham City through the Education Improvement Board. The City Council is also working with schools and academies to promote and recognise excellent attendance and good behaviour.
Over the past few years, pupils with the best or most improved attendance have been given prizes at the annual Lord Mayor’s Attendance Awards. Nottingham City Council also joined forces with Capital FM to run an award-winning campaign with secondary students to help improve attendance rates through exclusive music gigs.
More help and advice on attendance is available from www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/schoolattendance