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Education and lifelong learning minsiter Jane Davidson today announced that she will be immediately establishing a ...
Education and lifelong learning minsiter Jane Davidson today announced that she will be immediately establishing a 'task and finish' group to address truancy in Wales.

Addressing the education and lifelong learning committee meeting at the national assembly the minister said:

'One of the key areas identified in the Learning Country was disaffection. This challenging behaviour arises from a small minority of pupils but it has a massive impact on the learning and life chances of their peers as well as their own. It is with these issues in mind that we held a major Disaffection Conference in Swansea last autumn.

'I am immediately establishing a 'task and finish' group to address truancy. Discussions will involve key practitioners and other experts, and will also look at how to develop good practice. I would expect its report to be available by September. Work will also be undertaken on other areas highlighted in the conference report. This will allow us to develop a new distinctive Welsh agenda to tackle disaffection based on evidence later this year. We will also be considering the adequacy of the overall level of available resources and, if necessary, be considering whether further dedicated resources should be sought.

'I will writing soon to all chairs of governing bodies to invite them to encourage parents to give careful consideration as to whether it is in the interest of the children to take them out of school during term time for holidays.

'My officials are also meeting with their counterparts from the department for education and skills as well as the other devolved administrations to give detailed consideration to the important issue of truancy. They will be examining areas of common interest and sharing best practice.

'The Education Bill currently being considered by the house of lords contains three provisions which impact on this area of disaffection. Firstly, it would enable exclusion procedures to be amended by the Assembly under its secondary powers. This will enable us to fit these procedures more closely to the particular needs of Wales. Secondly, we will be seeking to rectify the anomaly that currently exists in pupil referral units where pupils excluded from them are not able to appeal against their exclusion decision. Thirdly, we are seeking powers under the Bill to allow us to review the current approach to attendance targets so that in future all absences rather than just unauthorised absences can be addressed.

'There has been considerable interest and publicity about truancy issues. It is a complex problem, but one which I intend to address. It is important that we look at the issues around pupils and young people who have become disengaged from mainstream education. We must ensure that all our young people get the best start in life'.

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