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Wish You Were Here- at school

PUBLISHED: 16:59 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:12 03 July 2010

QUESTION TIME: Hannah Munnings, attendance support worker, and PC Stephen Hughes talk to a pupil at Caister

QUESTION TIME: Hannah Munnings, attendance support worker, and PC Stephen Hughes talk to a pupil at Caister

POSTCARDS with the greeting “Wish You Were Here” are being sent out to every pupil in the east of Norfolk, including Great Yarmouth.

But instead of depicting scenes of sun, sand and sea, they show pictures of children enjoying their time in school.

POSTCARDS with the greeting “Wish You Were Here” are being sent out to every pupil in the east of Norfolk, including Great Yarmouth.

But instead of depicting scenes of sun, sand and sea, they show pictures of children enjoying their time in school.

The cards are being sent by Norfolk County Council as it steps up its campaign to encourage parents not to take their children out of school for holidays, saying that even missing one or two weeks at school could have a detrimental impact on a child's education.

The postcard was launched to coincide with the council's second Attendance Week in the Yarmouth area from Monday to today.

Attendance is below 80pc for more than 1,000 pupils in this area meaning they are missing the equivalent of one day a week of school and a fifth of their school lives. Five of the seven high schools are classed as having a persistent absence problem.

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.

Gill Buckley, inclusion and behaviour partnership manager for Norfolk County Council, said many families started to think about booking holidays in wintery evenings.

“Parents need to know that they do not have an automatic right to take their children on holiday during term time and schools will only give permission in exceptional circumstances. Any unauthorised absence is recorded and parents need to know they have a legal duty to ensure their child is attending school.”

The county council has been working with police to target those children not attending school.

Police and attendance officers attended schools at registration to see which children had failed to turn up and who were marked as unauthorised absentees. They then visited the homes of the pupils and spoke to parents about their legal responsibilities.

Attendance officer Laurna Hamilton, who visited Caister High School, said county council staff would have visited every high school this week, as well as feeder schools.

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.”

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 hol-idays, compared with only 20 penalties being issued throughout the whole of the last year.

Caister High assistant head-teacher 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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