Officers visit homes in clampdown on school skivers

PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 May 2012


A CLAMP down on truant pupils has seen police visiting homes and patrolling the streets to catch youngsters skipping school.

A week of action against school-skivers by Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Somerset County Council has seen officers paying home visits and patrolling the streets, catching youngsters red-handed and warning them they could face a criminal record.

In one day, 10 children were stopped in the streets in Somerset and six of them had no valid or medical excuse and were returned to their school.

There were also 18 home visits, with five of the truants visited skiving school without their parents’ knowledge, while one youngster claimed they were missing their learning to go on a shopping trip with their mum.

Six of those visited at home were alone without a parent.

Truancy rates in Somerset are in line with the English national average – but the authority is looking to lower the figures for the sake of youngsters’ prospects.

Children who are persistently truant are four times less likely to achieve five or more GCSEs at grade C or above, according to the Department for Education.

Cabinet member for children and families Cllr Frances Nicholson said: “If our children are to get the education and qualifications they need to compete in the job market, set up their own businesses or go on to higher education, they need to turn up for school.

“While I regret that there were so many cases to be identified, I am pleased the week-long education attendance patrols did successfully identify them so that action can be taken.

“Some feeble excuses were given, but where family or personal hardship has left a child unable to attend school, our officers will be helping to turn that situation round.”

Youth project coordinator at Avon and Somerset Police, Jenny Maynard, said: “The Attendance Sweep week was an excellent example of partnership work by both the Education Attendance Officers and Avon and Somerset Police beat teams.

“Any child between five and 16 years old found out of school was stopped and spoken to, to establish why they were absent from school. If a child was found to be unaccompanied by an adult, they were taken to a place of safety and their parent or guardian was informed.

“This multi-agency approach is paramount in working towards preventing young people from becoming involved in antisocial or criminal behaviour when absent from school.”

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