Wednesday, February 27, 2008


So the truancy figures haven't gone down after ten years of throwing money down the drain. Here's what should happen in my opinion:

Pass a simple law that says any child found truanting should be arrested along with their parents and made to spend a whole day from 8 until 6 in a blank room with no windows, doing the most boring activities that the teacher (who swaps every hour) can come up with. Parents employers informed, £50 fine taken from wages or Benefits. Believe me they would never, ever do it again. Total cost- a couple of million in overtime for the teachers.

Here's what happens at the moment:

Pupil truants and parents deny it, come up with some lame excuse or just say that they can't control their brat. If the pupil truants repeatedly (say 500 times) then the school can beg their Education Welfare Officer to beg the Council to take the parents to Court. The EWO finds some reason why she can't do it so the teachers beg again, and again. A year later the EWO eventually agrees.

Six months later...

Council decline to take parents to Court. (Parent is mad/has promised to improve/is drunk)
Pupil truants another 500 times, school begs etc.
Council take parents to Court. Parents given a stern warning to improve.
Pupil attends school for a month.
Pupil then starts truanting and the whole process starts all over again. (Unless the child is in the last two years of school in which case nobody even bothers as the Council won't try to prosecute because of the time delay in going to court.)

Total cost of various ludicrous initiatives, vandalism, muggings and burglary committed by truants-£Billions.


Anonymous said...

Well that's what happens when you let liberal, bleeding heart, do-gooders tell us how to raise children. In addition to telling us all that punishing children is wrong, and that parents need to be more like friends with their kids, rather than stern and strict parents, who wont take any crap.

An even more effective and cheaper punishment, to the one you suggest Frank, would be to bring back public floggings, and yes I am being very very serious, a mixture of corpral and capital punishment would be the best deterant...although fines are a good way to start.

First truancy offence, parent get docked an automatic £200, after that it's flogging for both parent and child. Bet parents, would soon start making sure their little darlings attended school.

Anonymous said...

Since every child is entitled to one mistake, how about starting punishment on the second offence? I have threatened both my kids with the end of the world if they ever truant, but would hate to think that dire punishment would come down on my head if one of them decided to "push their luck". We both work, but I certainly can't afford a £200 fine!

Their school operates a phone-the-parents system if a kid doesn't turn up and most parents ensure it never happens again - reserve the punishments for the serial offenders, please.

oldandrew said...

As I understand it absenteeism from school is actually down.

It's just that the press likes to report the completely worthless "unauthorised absence" figures instead (i.e. the number of absent pupils the schools aren't willing to lie about).

So good news after all.

Anonymous said...

I have a better idea.

Keep records of the teachers and schools that have the most truants.

Then publish league tables, sack the teachers with the worst figures, fine the next worst 10%, and give awards and payrises to the best 10%.

I think it's such a brilliant idea that I have already sent it to Ed Balls and Gordon Brown.

Watch out for me in the next honours list.

Cynical (OBE)

Anonymous said...

Our boy is in primary 2, in a different school from the one he was in when he started in primary 1. The first school pushed him on, loads of homework, doing really well with reading etc etc. A hard working teacher methinks. In his current school, hardly any homework, no real focus on pushing on the kids. Icing on the cake was when we got told the class were making pasta necklaces. Stuff he did way back in pre-school. What is going on? Lazy teachers are contributing to the problems this country has, so please, spare us the bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher in America and have come to entertain the opinion that truancy laws should be revoke. End mandatory schooling at the age of 14 or so. If a student has half a dozen unexcused absences, boot him. Such a student doesn't gain much from attending. The classroom works better in his absence. And the nation needs more unskilled laborers. At least, America does. Why else would we import so many from Latin America?

Anonymous said...

Oh , yes , yes.
Somebody has got to be pious -
so ' if you made the lessons more interesting they would not truant '

tee, hee. there i said it!

Anonymous said...

Parents are NOT (usually) given a warning.

When summonsed to Court, they simply don't appear and are fined in absence ... about £100 from memory. [Based on 50% of average weekly salary]

As a JP, the school non-attendance court is only beaten for awfulness by the fare evasion court.

The truancy officers seem quite professional and actually to care. The parents don't and ... errr ... don't.

Anonymous said...

For those of us who aren't teachers, could Old Andrew expain for us how truancy is down when all the reports quite clearly stste that it is up?

eg the Guardian who can always be relied on to excuse anything say:

"Truancy rates among pupils in England rose last year to their highest level since records began in 1997"

Lots of children regularly truant at my son's school but no action ever seems to be taken. If the schools can't be bothered then what hope have we got?

Anonymous said...

This is a genuine question...why should children be compelled to go to school at all (other than by their parents)?

oldandrew said...

"For those of us who aren't teachers, could Old Andrew expain for us how truancy is down when all the reports quite clearly stste that it is up?"

There are two sets of figures:

Absences. This is the number of children not in school. This is down and has generally been on a downward trend.

Unauthorised Absences. These are absences which the school hasn't chosen to authorise. In theory these are the absences where no explanation has been given. In practice schools who are worried about attendance just authorise any old absence and, just in case, make form tutors responsible for committing this fraud and so this figure actually represents absences that nobody could be arsed to lie about. This is the statistic that is up (i.e. less absences have been authorised).

Any teacher who has ever been told to "clear their absences" knows that the second figure is completely worthless.

Anonymous said...

The answer is simple and you don't even need to bother with court- after say a fortnight, the school contacts the DSS, it stops the Child Benefit for any child who is adjudged playing truant- which can only be renewed after certification by the School.

Nae bother, pal

Anonymous said...

OK. I'm going to out-extreme the extremists.

1. Repeal compulsory attendance laws. Anyone who's dumb enough not to take advantage of free child-care... er, education for the ir crumbcrunchers has a screw loose.
2. Repeal child labour laws. When was the last time anyone, let alone a child, went down t'pit? Kids that can't stand school could get a legal job. Now there's a concept!
3. Any parent whose kid has been expelled from school for cause has to formally apply to get their kid back in. See your post on bribing the head!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered the figures of truenting may be caused by E.W.O's and schools not doing anything constructive about preventing bullying. Children become ill when they are bullied and there is far too much hard hearted attitudes victims of this. The legal interpritation of the term truanting is hazy and can be mis used as it can include and accuse children suffering from illnes which often happens as a result of ill health bulling causes when they become so abused are too ill to attend school. Nobody is considering this nor empathise with this. Would one person commenting sugest that the answer is to cause further damage to these abused children or their parents? Therefore, it isnt peaceful or social to launch such hatred against others as is certainly is'nt the answer.

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Anonymous said...

Im a 17 Year old Kid i go to TCHS, the Truancy Policy is kind of stupid i have to say because ive only skipped 2 days of school and absent 3 days and tardy for 1st period 3 times and they counted me skipping for over 14 days (of absences) so in my opinion the schools are the one actually not knowing whats going on because i have to go to court in the hand book it says 10 days of unexcused abcenses and i have 4 days of unexcused they count me for 14. and i know tons of schools that have taken bribs for their child to not be called out by the truancy officer.Just My 2 Cents.