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Education minister Stephen Twigg today revealed the success of the ...
Education minister Stephen Twigg today revealed the success of the

latest truancy sweeps and some of the bizarre and ridiculous excuses

given for not going to school.

The figures show that of more than 12,000 pupils stopped, during May,

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

children's future.'

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

school age.

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

school age.

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.

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