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The government today unveiled the next phase in its strategy to...
The government today unveiled the next phase in its strategy to

tackle truancy launching a new poster campaign and kicking off the

next set of truancy sweeps.

The new posters, that will appear at shopping centres and high

streets around the country during the Christmas period, will combine

with national truancy sweeps to send a clear message to parents that

they have a vital part to play in ensuring young people attend


Findings from earlier truancy sweeps have shown that around half of

schoolchildren stopped were with a parent. This campaign marks the

next strand in the government's strategy that has already seen

tougher penalties for parents including fines of up to£2,500 and

jail sentences.

Education minister Ivan Lewis also announced the eight areas around

the country that will pilot a new fast track through to prosecution

process for parents of persistent truants from January.

Mr Lewis said:

'Truancy has remained a scourge of our education system for too long.

What starts as 'bunking off' the occasional lesson can spiral to

missing out on vital stages in a child's education. This feeds into a

cycle of underachievement and disaffection which can lead to crime

and drug and alcohol misuse.

'As a government we are determined to tackle this but if we are going

to make a real difference it is absolutely vital that parents also

shoulder their share of responsibility. It is unacceptable that over

half the young people stopped on truancy sweeps are with a parent. We

have to work together to ensure that our children receive the

education they deserve. Quite simply, children who truant are missing

out on school, damaging their prospects and exam results - and

causing problems in shops and precincts.'

The poster will be available throughout shopping centres, high

streets, GPs' surgeries and libraries around the country and will

coincide with a national round of truancy sweeps throughout December.

Information leaflets will also be available outlining parental


Today's launch was made as Home Office minister John Denham announced

that new measures to help police and courts crack-down on anti-social

behaviour and nuisance crime came into force (see LGCnet).


This Press Notice applies to England.

1. The Department for Education and Skills has produced posters

highlighting truancy and these are available for retailers, and

doctors' surgeries free of charge. Please telephone 0845 60 2220 60

requesting A4 or A3 size, quote PPY181 and for A3 PPY181


2. The 8 areas piloting the fast-track through to prosecution process


Tower Hamlets





North East Lincolnshire



In addition another 13 LEAs will be involved in the roll-out later in

the year.

3. As part of the street crime initiative, police forces and

education welfare services in the 10 areas identified as having the

highest rates of street crime, conducted an intensive series of

truancy sweeps during May 2002. Key findings were:

- 12,000 children have been stopped by over 900 truancy patrols in

the period 29th April - 30th May 2002.

- 32% of these children were of primary age and 68% of secondary

school age.

- 18% of children stopped were asked to return with the Education

Welfare Officers either to their school or another central

location. Details were taken from all children stopped by the

truancy patrols and appropriate follow-up work was carried out with

their school and family by Education Welfare Officers. Additional

support was also provided by Connexions Personal Advisers and

Learning Mentors in Excellence in Cities areas to those young

people that were identified as having attendance problems to make

sure that any issues were resolved. Almost all of these children

were of secondary school age.

- About half of the children stopped were with their parents (83% of

primary school age children stopped were with their parents and 26%

of secondary school age children), and were judged to have no good

reason for being out of school

4. The department has introduced over 2,500 learning mentors within

Excellence in Cities areas who provide individual help and support

for children who face barriers to learning, and the new Connexions

Service Partnerships also give priority to improving school

attendance for all young people aged 13 and over.

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