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Education secretary Ruth Kelly denied this morning that the government's...
Education secretary Ruth Kelly denied this morning that the government's

measures to tackle truancy are having no effect, as the national Audit

Office report* suggests.

'There are 40,000 more pupils in school every day than there were in 1997,'

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

next month.'

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.

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