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Targeting truants





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Parents have been warned that they face prosecution if they fail to ensure their children attend school.

The attendance officer at Dukeries College, Ollerton, Mr Jerry Huber, is taking a hard-line against truancy as he strives to meet government attendance level targets.

In extreme cases, Mr Huber and the principal, Mr Danny Smith, will look to prosecute parents if children are not attending school.

Three parents recently appeared before magistrates at Newark charged with failing to ensure their children attended school.

Mr Huber said one parent was fined £50 and ordered to pay court costs of £55 and another was fined £300 with £80 court costs.

The case against the third, Mr Huber said, had been adjourned after a considerable improvement in the child’s attendance levels.

Mr Huber said: “There are ways of getting the children back into school, such as offering an alternative programme of education.

“There can be a variety of reasons why they are not attending school, such as problems at home, bullying, or just thinking they do not need to go to school.

“Guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families states that if a child’s level of attendance falls below 12%, then parents should be prosecuted.”

He said the Dukeries College was keen to promote attendance in its 1,200 pupils and worked closely with the Education Welfare Service.

Mr Huber said legally any parent who failed to send their child to school faced possible prosecution. Children whose attendance falls below 80% are monitored.

Mr Huber said just taking a child out of school for a holiday could have an impact.

He said the Education Welfare Service would only prosecute parents where absence was unauthorised, so if a child was off long-term through illness, and has a GP’s certificate, they would not be prosecuted.

He said: “Attendance is not a problem here, but there is a minority, less than 10%, who play truant.

“When I am out and about in Ollerton I can spot them quite easily. I know most of the hiding places. Our children stick out because of their maroon-coloured sweaters. Those caught are punished and are given an automatic detention.

“My time is spent getting them back into school, even if it is only on a part-time timetable. There is only so much we can do but taking them to court is the final course of action.

“It is an emotive subject for everyone but I will continue my job to get children into school if they have no good reason not to come.”



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