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140 homes visited in truancy sweep

PUBLISHED: 15:12 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:33 03 July 2010

POLICE and school attendance officers visited 140 homes across the Great Yarmouth area this week - asking parents and carers their children were not at school.

POLICE and school attendance officers visited 140 homes across the Great Yarmouth area this week - asking parents and carers their children were not at school.

Several children were returned to school throughout the week and for other families specific needs were identified, such as family illness, for which they can now receive support.

The focus of this year's attendance week was reducing illness related absence, as illness makes up a considerable amount of recorded absence in the eastern area. The majority of those spoken to during the week told officers their children were unwell and some had medical evidence to support this.

Other young people were playing truant and their parents were unaware they were not at school. In one case a pupil was returned to school only to be picked up by officers again later in the day, when he had left the school grounds.

In some cases there are underlying child protection concerns when pupils persistently miss school through illness, either because their health needs are not being met or for other family reasons.

As part of ongoing work in the east of the county, schools are targeting any pupils who have three broken weeks, with days missed, in any half term.

Parents of children falling into this category will receive a letter, letting them know that any further absences will not be authorised without medical confirmation. The school will also let parents know that support and advice is available.

In the Great Yarmouth area attendance is below 80pc for more than 1,000 pupils, meaning they are missing the equivalent of one day a week at school and a fifth of their schools lives.

To try to address the issue Norfolk County Council has been stepping up its work around attendance in the east of the county, with an increasing number of prosecutions, warning letters and attendance and truancy sweeps.

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