latest truancy sweeps and some of the bizarre and ridiculous excuses
given for not going to school.
around half were with a parent and 68% per cent were from secondary
Amongst the excuses given for missing school was 'because of a spot
on my nose'.
One parent was stopped with her child and said that she did not have
time to discuss why her child was not in school because she needed to
buy a pair of jeans.
Mr Twigg said on a visit to Swanlea School in East London which has a
proven track record in successfully tackling truancy:
'If children are not attending school then they are not learning and
that has very serious implications. By missing out on school they are
limiting their potential and putting themselves at risk of drifting
into crime and drug and alcohol misuse.
'We are clear that as a government we have to tackle this problem
head on and have put considerable resources behind it. But parents
also have a vital role to play in ensuring that their children are in
school when they should be.
'One of the most alarming aspects about these figures is the number
of children stopped with a parent or responsible adult. Around half
of the children stopped with a parent had no good excuse for being
out of school. Some of the reasons they did supply were unacceptable.
This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. Parents have
to take responsibility otherwise they are jeopardising their
Other excuses given for not attending school were 'not liking
Mondays'; 'because it's my birthday'; 'my hamster died and I need to
buy a new one' and 'buying new shoes'.
More than 900 truancy patrols were carried out between 29th April and
30th May. They were targeted at shopping centres and known trouble
spots throughout England and form a key part of the government's
strategy to lower the levels of truancy. LEAs and police forces are
currently putting together plans for the next academic year.
A table giving Truancy Sweep Results by Police Area is available here .
This Press Notice applies to England.
1. 12,000 children have been stopped by over 900 truancy patrols in
the period 29th April - 30th May 2002. LEAs normally only conduct
1-2 sweeps a month so this represents a tenfold increase. All
professionals involved in sweeps are trained in how to approach
both children and any adults who may be with them including the
need to identify themselves and explain the reasons for stopping
2. Children of school age who are not accompanied by an adult will
normally be asked to accompany the truancy sweep team, either to an
agreed central location, or back to their school. Details were
taken from all children stopped by the truancy patrols and
appropriate follow-up with their school and family was carried out
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
3. 32% of children stopped were of primary age and 68% of secondary
4. 18.4% of children stopped were asked to return with the
education welfare officers either to their school or another
central location. Almost all of these children were of secondary
5. 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). Of the young people stopped
with their parents about half were judged to have no good reason
for being out of school.
6. The targeting of truancy sweeps is essential if they are going
to be effective. Truancy sweeps in the town shopping centre will
pick up parents with younger children, targeted sweeps in known
trouble areas pick up young people on their own.