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Absent pupils targeted in truancy sweep

PUBLISHED: 15:38 07 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 July 2010

TRUANCY officers were out in force in the borough this week - making sure pupils were not taking an extended bank holiday weekend.

The four-day sweep began on Tuesday targeting both high and primary schools in the borough, and Acle, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of good attendance at school.

TRUANCY officers were out in force in the borough this week - making sure pupils were not taking an extended bank holiday weekend.

The four-day sweep began on Tuesday targeting both high and primary schools in the borough, and Acle, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of good attendance at school.

Five teams made up of police and truancy officers collected unauthorised absent lists from high schools and pupils were selected at random for a home visit.

County council attendance officer Debra Halsey explained it was not only children with poor attendance records who were selected for a home visit. A 13-year-old pupil from a Gorleston school was visited, despite having a good attendance record of 98pc.

In Gorleston the teams carried out 29 home visits, with four in the Acle area and seven in Caister. Reasons for absence included illness and late laundry meaning the pupil had no uniform.

Mrs Halsey said the home visits were welcomed by parents and attendance levels at schools increased following visits.

Parents of truants face a fine or court action. In 2007/08 the parents of 163 pupils across Norfolk were prosecuted and since September the county council has already prosecuted the parents of 166 pupils.

Fixed penalty notices of £50 have also increased from 129 in 2007/08 with 180 issued since September 2008.

A joint initiative between Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Police, the sweeps are carried out every six months and information is relayed to schools.

A change in tactics has seen truancy officers move away from street patrols favouring visits to the home of absent pupils in a bid to engage parents.

Pupils whose attendance falls below 80pc are considered to be persistent absentees.


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