Government advisor says truancy crackdown means three-year-olds should have school absence recorded

 

Children as young as  three and four should have their absences from school recorded if the government’s crackdown on truancy is to be effective, its most senior adviser on behaviour said today.

Charlie Taylor, the Government’s behaviour “tsar” warned that it was often “too late” to solve attendance problems if they were not tackled until a child started formal schooling.

“There is no nationally collected data on children’s attendance in nursery and reception, as school is not mandatory at this age,” he said in a report published today.

“This means schools are not held to account for pupils’ attendance until they reach the age of five  ... but for some children this is already too late.”

He added: “Children with low attendance in the early years are more likely to come from the poorest backgrounds.

“These children are likely to start school already behind their peers, particularly in the acquisition of language and their social development.”

“They have little chance of catching up their peers if their attendance is bad.  If they fail to succeed early in their school careers they are likely to get further behind.”

The unprecedented move would mean schools keeping absence records of children under the age of compulsory schooling for the first time ever.

 The call won the backing  of  Education Secretary Michael Gove who said: “It is clear that poor habits form in the early stages of a child’s education.

“Primary schools need to do more to support parents who are not getting their children into school, starting in reception classes.

“A full range of school absence data plays a key role in helping teachers to pick up and deal with poor attendance patterns.  We will publish this data.”

The most controversial aspect of the report, though, was the recommendations that parents should lose child benefits if they failed to pay fines for truancy.

Mr Taylor, who was previously the headteacher of a special school for children with behavioural difficulties, suggested increasing on-the-spot fines levied by headteachers from £50 and £60 - with the proviso they should be doubled and deducted from child benefits if not paid within 28 days.

He cited as evidence the fact that – at present – the fact that between 50 and 60 per cent of these fines currently went unpaid.

Teachers’ leaders and child care organisation warned this would penalise children as much as the parents  as the majority who do not pay their fines comes from the most deprived communities.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, added: “We’ve never been convinced that fines are the right approach.

“Effectively you’re fining the child and their brothers and sisters not the real offender.

“Better to work withe the families to overcome the reasons.”

The blueprint also decided against making it illegal for parents to take children out on holidays during term time – arguing that such leave should only be granted by headteachers in exceptional circumstances.

At present, children can be taken out of school for up to 10 days a year – but some parents use this as an entitlement rather than a discretion.

Launching his report, Mr  Taylor warned that some parents were “trigger happy” in  keeping their children off school.

“Sometimes parents think they’re being a good parent by keeping their child off school but actually sometimes they can be a bit trigger happy, particularly with young parents and young children,” he said.

“I think it’s just an education job.  It’s helping parents to understand what’s the difference between a bit of a sniffle and ‘don’t worry we’ll look after him and if there’s a real problem we’ll give you a ring’ and something that’s really serious and the kid needs to be at home.”

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

English Teacher

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are curren...

DT Technician

£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Early Years Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor