Maybe, though, threats and cajoling are not the best way to coax reluctant learners back to class - and providing a vibrant curriculum which is of more interest to them is. There is much anecdotal evidence from schools of "targeted truancy" - pupils skipping their least favourite lesson or least favourite teacher - rather than giving up on education and going home (or worse, to the street corner and a life of petty crime).
Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, acknowledged yesterday that in some areas a curriculum offering more vocational education has persuaded youngsters to stay at school.
The threats may look impressive in headlines - which could be why the Government has pursued them for so long. But long-term improvements in the standard of teaching and the range of subjects will look even better if they succeed in bringing the truancy rates down.