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SCHOOLS AND LEAS BENEFIT FROM ALLOCATION OF£174M TO TACKLE TRUANCY (ENGLAND)

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A total of£174m was allocated to local authorities today ...
A total of£174m was allocated to local authorities today
by schools minister Jacqui Smith, as part of the government's
continued drive to reduce truancy and indiscipline in schools.
The Social Inclusion Pupil Support Standards Fund grant has
increased by£43m compared to last year. The level of funding
for 2001-2 is ten times the amount available in 1996-97.
The money will fund more truancy sweeps where police and education
welfare officers pick up youngsters who should be in school. It will
pay for more schemes to encourage greater parental and community
awareness of truancy, and will allow more schools to employ learning
mentors to improve attendance and tackle bullying and disaffection.
It also enables off-site pupil referral units to provide a full-time
education and more teachers - there are 1,000 more places this year
than in 1997.
Announcing the local education authority allocations, Jacqui Smith
said: 'Too many school children are missing school and cutting their
chances of success in life. Some schools are raising attendance
levels, but more needs to be done to reduce significantly the 50,000
pupils away from school without permission on any given day.
'Our crackdown on truancy will continue at a pace with this
significant investment. The increased funds for 2001-02 will allow
schools and local authorities to set up more innovative projects to
improve school attendance. These are working:
- unauthorised absence rates at Valentines High School in Ilford fell
from one per cent to 0.4 per cent after they used Standards Fund
money to employ staff to phone parents whose children were absent
from school. They are also publishing attendance rates for each year
group every fortnight;
- youth crime in York has been cut by 67 per cent since the local
education authority used Standards Fund money to introduce truancy
watch schemes in the city centre. All children, even if they are with
an adult, are asked why they are not in school;
- attendance rates rose by five per cent among 14-16-year-olds taking
part in vocational taster courses and extended work experience
programmes offered by Worcestershire local authority and the local
chamber of commerce;
- some young people who had severe attendance problems now have 100
per cent attendance at Montgomery High School in Blackpool. The
school's Learning Support Unit uses Standards Fund money to pay for a
full time teacher to work there. The headteacher actively involves
the local community and has the support of shopkeepers who alert the
school when they suspect young people are truanting.
'By simplifying the Standards Fund for next year we have given
schools the flexibility to target the grant where it will make the
most difference. For instance, they can decide to employ more
school-based education welfare officers to tackle the problem
directly, or take a more preventative approach by introducing peer
mentoring.
'The money we are allocating today is on top of the resources
available to schools in most of England's urban areas through our
Excellence in Cities programme, which is relieving teachers of the
burdens that misbehaving pupils can impose by increasing numbers of
learning mentors and on-site units for disaffected pupils.
'The£450m Children's Fund will support families over the next
three years and includes work to prevent children skipping school.
The Connexions service offering advice for 13-19-year-olds will also
concentrate on improving staying-on rates.'
NOTES
1. From 1 March next year, new legislation will ensure that parents
of persistent truants have to go to court and face tougher fines.
Schools which succeed in cutting truancy in challenging circumstances
will have the chance to win a 'Truancy Buster' award of up to£10,000
and the first 'Truancy Buster' awards will be made early in 2001.
David Blunkett and Jack Straw announced more truancy sweeps in
October 2000.
2. Of the£174m,£137m is going directly into schools
to help them tackle truancy and poor behaviour, of which£10m
will support the establishment of new Learning Support Units to
ensure that disruptive pupils are taken out of the classroom. We aim
to have 1,000 such units by 2002. Local authorities are receiving£36m
to provide co-ordinated authority wide support in tackling
bad behaviour and providing education to excluded pupils. A further
£1m will help finance national projects to tackle truancy.
3. By 2002 all excluded pupils must be offered a full-time education
and LEAs are already making progress. Compared to 1997, there are now
1,000 more places and 250 more teachers at off-site pupil referral
units (PRUs) which cater for excluded pupils.
4. The LEA allocations are available on the department's website.
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