12 February 2009


The news that there is a truancy jailing every two weeks is bit of a shock. This is the pinnacle of the iceberg that has seen 10,000 parents being prosecuted for not getting their children to school. Sadly, this seems to have had no impact on truancy rates which are still rising and I guess that they will rise even more when the school leaving age is raised from 16 to 18.

School attendance is clearly an important issue and as governor it something that we discuss fairly regularly, particularly as schools have attendance targets. The argument for attendance that we preach is simple (ignoring the fact that it is a legal requirement), we cannot teach your child if they are not in school.

For the vast majority of children attendance is either not an issue or is something that we can manage by working with the parents etc. The question is what to do with the children for whom this approach does not work?

I do not thing that replacing the carrot of learning with the stick of a fine or imprisonment is the answer as they do not fit the "crime". There is no damage that the fine can be used to repair and going to prison does not make you a better parent. This makes the sentence nothing more than a punishment.

The families with truancy problems tend to be socially deprived so this punishment is being inflicted on a group of people that society is trying to help. It is much harder for the authorities to help a family if they are also trying to prosecute them. You cannot build up trust when carrying a carrot in one hand and a stick in the other.

There are also some children for whom school is not really a suitable environment. For example, some simply do not cope with being surrounded by lots of people, especially when those people are teenagers who are not noted for being kind to each other.

I do not think that there is a single solution to truancy but the approach must be to understand the individual situation of each child and their family and work with them to achieve the best for the child, in or out of school.

1 comment:

  1. I share your opinion. In my view the carrot always wins! You just need to find out which carrot is the more individually suitable.


All comments are welcome. Comments are moderated only to keep out the spammers and all valid comments are published, even those that I disagree with!