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Responding to recommendations made by the Behavior Adviser Charlie Taylor on improving school attendance, Anne Longfield OBE, CEO at 4children said:
Truancy is a damaging problem that needs to be tackled. We agree that grappling with these issues as early as possible and in primary school is critical - getting to grips with attendance at primary school has a positive future effect for a child's attendance and attainment throughout their school life. It is positive to see Charlie Taylor and the Department for Education highlighting the huge importance of early intervention on this issue. As with so many problems, the earlier interventions can be made, the better the outcomes and the chance of turning things around.
We understand that parents are up against the growing cost of taking children on holiday at peak times, which can be prohibitive. However, they need to be made aware of the educational cost of taking their child out of school during term time. Every day at school is valuable and attending should not be seen as optional – special as they are for families, holidays are not a ‘special’ case.
Parents taking responsibility for attendance and being held to account is clearly important. But it must be remembered that persistent truanting can often form part of a complex web of family issues which can lead to family crisis - and supporting parents and children to overcome these must remain a priority.
In difficult financial times, punitive measures such as collecting fines through benefits payments are unlikely to tackle the root causes of truancy. Families need support to overcome these issues and cutting crucial funds to the whole family could be detrimental and counterproductive. We are encouraged that Michael Gove has not indicated that he intends to adopt this approach.
Notes to editor:
For more information on attendance in schools, please see the Department for Education's (DfE) website at, http://www.education.gov.uk/