Parents could have child benefit docked in absence crackdown
A proposed crackdown on absenteeism could see parents of primary school children who play truant have their child benefit payments docked.
Launching plans to overhaul the system of fining the parents of pupils who miss lots of time at primary school, the Department for Education (DfE) today released figures showing that almost 400,000 pupils missed 15% of schooling a year - equivalent to a month’s absence.
Under the measures outlined in the independent DfE review, head teachers could levy a £60 penalty on parents who allow their children to miss school without a valid reason. Should this money not be paid within 28 days, the fine could double to £120 and could be recovered automatically from child benefit.
According to research, nearly four in five local authorities (79%) found penalty notices were either ‘very successful’ or ‘fairly successful’ at cutting absenteeism rates. However, most authorities also felt court action was often a long-winded process that achieves very little, with around half of the 127,000 notices imposed since 2004 either unpaid or withdrawn.
Review author, Charlie Taylor, the Government’s adviser on behaviour, said that despite steady improvements in recent years, 54 million days of school were missed last year. Mr Taylor acknowledged some parents simply allowed their children to miss lessons and then refused to pay the fines, rendering the penalties ineffectual and meaning children continued to lose ‘vital days of education they can never recover’.
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