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Police and schools' truancy crackdown

PUBLISHED: 15:56 04 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:11 03 July 2010

A knock on the door from a police officer and a school attendance officer was the rude awakening yesterday morning for any high school pupils skipping lessons without good cause.

A knock on the door from a police officer and a school attendance officer was the rude awakening yesterday morning for any high school pupils skipping lessons without good cause.

A week-long blitz on truancy is being carried out across eastern Norfolk, including Caister, where five of its seven high schools are classed as having a persistent absence problem, meaning at least 7pc of pupils missing an average one day a week.

Attendance officer Laurna Hamilton, who visited Caister High School, said 16 county council staff were leading the crackdown, visiting every high school yesterday, tomorrow and Friday and feeder schools, today and Thursday.

From an initial list of 59 absentees at Caister, she identified about 10 youngsters for a home visit by herself and a police officer.

She said: “We will ask the parents why they have not phoned in and if there is no reason for a child being off we will ask them to get ready and come to school.”

During the week, attendance officers are working with schools to ensure parents are made aware of the impact of unauthorised absence, and Wish You Were Here postcards are being sent home urging parents not to book family holidays during term time.

Ms Hamilton said they were prepared to use £50 fixed penalties for parents taking unauthorised holidays far more vigilantly - since September alone 80 parents in the east of Norfolk had been warned they would face a fine if they went ahead with unauthorised holidays, compared with only 20 penalties being issued throughout the whole of the last year.

Caister High assistant headteacher Marj O'Sullivan said her school had begun a policy of asking parents to come in and explain why they needed to take holiday in term time.


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