measures to tackle truancy are having no effect, as the national Audit
Office report* suggests.
she told BBC Radio Four's Today programme.
She agreed there remains a hardcore of persistent truants, but said: 'We're
giving local authorities and schools the powers they need to tackle them.'
Ms Kelly said: 'All local authorities have run fast track prosecutions for
parents and over three quarters have penalty notices and parenting contracts
that they can use as well. All local authorities will have those in the
These can have a dramatic impact on attendance, she told Today. 'Birmingham,
one of the first local authorities to use fixed penalty notices for parents
for unauthorised absence of their children, only had to warn 800 parents
that they might receive a notice, for 776 of them to take immediate action
to get their children back to school.'
Up to date figures show more improvements, she said, claiming there has been
a 7 per cent reduction in pupil absence since the NAO report was completed.
* NAO report.