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Nearly 150 parents fined or prosecuted for their children’s low school attendance

01 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Council officials confirmed that schools in the Vale of Glamorgan are looking at redundancies to address budgetary pressures. Pic: Pixabay.

Nicholas Thomas Local Democracy Reporter

Nearly 150 parents in one county have been prosecuted since 2018 for not sending their children to school.

Councils have powers to punish parents of persistent absentees, including taking them to court.

While Caerphilly Council said legal interventions are “a last resort”, a new report shows parents or carers of more than 800 children have faced enforcement action over the last five and a half years.

The council’s education committee is due to meet next week to discuss various strategies for improving pupil attendance.

“Above average”

Caerphilly currently ranks 13th out of Wales’ 22 council areas for pupil absence rates and is above the national average – described by the council as a “positive” result.

At the end of March, overall school attendance in the county borough stood at 90.3%, compared to 89.1% from the same month in 2023.

The report shows attendance is slightly lower, in both primary and secondary schools, among pupils who receive free school meals, however.

The council said school attendance in Caerphilly, “as in all local authorities across Wales… has been negatively affected by the pandemic”.

Initiatives

Efforts to improve attendance is “a priority for all schools” in the county borough, and the council has launched several initiatives including “bespoke support” for each school.

Attendance workshops are held at schools each term, where staff can share best practice, and headteachers also take part in special “attendance seminars”.

But when work to encourage attendance fails, the council pursues legal action against parents and carers whose children continue to miss school.

So far this current academic year, Caerphilly Council has issued 166 fixed penalty notices and sought prosecution of 13 parents.

Last year, the figures stood at 190 fixed penalty notices and 33 prosecutions of parents, although three of those cases were later dismissed.

The council said it “recognises there are cases where legal intervention is a helpful tool for schools where all other strategies have been explored”.

The report also notes school attendance in recent years was highest in 2018/19, which was also the year when the council carried out the most enforcement action.

In some circumstances, however, the council accepts enforcement is not the best solution, such as when pupils face “severe cases of anxiety or missed diagnosis”.


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Peni
Peni
1 day ago

There is no way,it seems, to distinguish between absences due to ill health and those not related to ill health.. This causes parents and children great distress and leads to children going into school when they are not well to try and avoid those distressing letters. Also schools give rewards for ‘Good Attendance’ which then leaves children with illnesses, such as chronic tonsillitis, feeling that they aren’t good students. Needs a sensible overhaul of the system.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 day ago

The policy of parents being fined or prosecuted for their children’s non-attendance of school should be abolished!

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
1 day ago

Surely, it’s time we paid students for attendance. Say, 50p a half-day for juniors, £1 for seniors.

This would prove popular with them, and improve attendance and overall results.

Other considerations apart, this proposal seems fair.

Adrian
Adrian
1 day ago

Although – UK schools were closed during the lockdowns for what we now know to be little more than political reasons. Gething, of course, tried to cover this up by deleting his messages.

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