90 per cent of truants with parents

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The Independent Online

Ministers are planning a new campaign against truancy after nearly 2,000 children were found out of school during a series of police spot checks across Britain earlier this month.

Ministers are planning a new campaign against truancy after nearly 2,000 children were found out of school during a series of police spot checks across Britain earlier this month.

The two-week crackdown also found that more than 90 per cent of the primary-age childrennot in classrooms had their parents' permission.

Internal statistics produced by the Department for Education and Skills, seen by The Independent, show police and social workers stopped 627 primary-age and 1,483 secondary pupils out of school during the two-week operation. Officials were shocked to find that 575 primary age (92 per cent) and 389 secondary age children (45 per cent) were out of school with their parents.

Excuses ranged from illness and dental appointments to one girl who said she did not like Mondays. In one case, a 12-year-old girl was found looking after children aged one and two.

Many of the children found during "sweeps" of town and city centres were out shopping with parents. Patrols of estates and residential areas usually found truants alone.

The figures will reinforce calls for tougher sanctions on parents after Tony Blair's suggestion that parents who allow their children to miss school should lose benefits.

One Government source warned: "There are going to be a series of these initiatives. There's no point just doing it once. It's got to be a concerted action."

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