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LEGAL REMINDER TO LEAs TO CRACK DOWN ON TRUANCY

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The Law Society's Local Government Group (LGG) is promoting effective legal action by councils on school truancy. ...
The Law Society's Local Government Group (LGG) is promoting effective legal action by councils on school truancy.

LGG are reminding local education authorities that they have a duty to enforce the law on school attendance.

LGG director of training, Peter Godber, said this week that 'councils cannot escape this. They have a legal duty to take action and our courses show how this is best done'.

'Councils do not have a duty to prosecute in all cases. But if no action was taken, they run the risk that the courts would say that the council was negligent. And then the council might have to pay compensation to the truant pupil, who claimed later on that he/she suffered from the council's failure to act.'

Education negligence is a growing area of the law and there is scope for more legal proceedings to be mounted against local education authorities who do not effectively carry out their duties in relation to ensuring school attendance.

In one recent case where a council did prosecute, magistrates in Banbury in Oxfordshire imposed a 60-day prison sentence on Patricia Amos, for failing to ensure that her two daughters, Emma, 15 and Jackie, 13 - attended school.

In the appeal hearing on 22nd May 2002, Patricia Amos, 43, was freed by magistrates at Banbury after serving only half her sentence.

All this follows prime minister Tony Blair's recent speech on truancy and his suggestion to dock child benefits to parents of persistent truants:

'There are some schools in very difficult areas where we need to reassert the strength of the majority,' said Tony Blair.

LGG's next training course on the law of truancy will be held on 16th July 2002 in London. Details from: Lisa Hart at LGG Tel: 08707 30 30 40

Fax: 01483 277888 or email: bookings@lgg.org.uk

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