'Fines' urged for truancy

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The Independent Online
JOHN PATTEN, the Secretary of State for Education, is being urged to 'fine' schools whose pupils play truant.

Money should be switched from school budgets to local authorities to provide alternative education for truants, argues Chris Adamson, education chairman of Islington, north London, where at least 800 15 and 16-year-olds - the equivalent of an average secondary school - are estimated to be absent from school each day.

Local authorities in England and Wales are alarmed that Mr Patten plans to make them responsible for educating a rising number of young people who are not in school. The funding that they used to be able to deploy in schemes to promote attendance or cater for truants has now been given to individual schools. Schools and education officials are also sceptical that the publication of truancy figures ordered by the Government will help to tackle the problem.

Mr Adamson said in a letter to Mr Patten: 'If the Government is serious about ensuring that schools tackle non-attendance, should it not consider funding schools on actual attendance rather than on the school roll - funding to be reduced pro-rata below what is deemed a nationally accepted attendance level?'

Truancy is a growing problem, but there are no usable national figures, HM Inspectorate says.