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Christian group: parents of truants need support

by Hannah Tooley

The comment came after new figures were released, showing the number of parents being taken to court because their children are skipping school is rising - with thousands facing action in 2014.

More than 16-thousand people in England were prosecuted for failing to ensure their child attended school last year - that makes up around 86 cases each day.

This number is up a quarter on 2013 and is thought to be due to strict new rules on term-time holidays.

Clive Ireson, the Association of Christian Teachers, told Premier: "Often there's reasons why children aren't in school - people living haphazard lifestyles and things.

"It is the parent's responsibility but to fine them or even in the last analysis, send them to prison, doesn't actually help the child or get that child into education."

Netnums, a parenting help group said that in some cases a fine is enough to ensure parents push their children to attend, but agreed that in some cases families need better support.

The figures, obtained by the Press Association, show that the number of people handed time in jail more than doubled.

It also showed more women were fined and jailed than men.


Mr Ireson stressed that open communication between the school, parents and the child was key, so that problems can be addressed sooner rather than later.

"See if they need particular support, it may be that the parent may be looking after another child at home and finding it really difficult - is there any way the school can help with that?

"It is the parent's responsibility to get their children in school - but often a little help can get them there," he said.

He added that often sickly children are ostracised: "There are some children who are ill and the system at the moment doesn't always cope with them very well - because the school's always have to reach a certain level of attendance, and some of the children that are ill get caught up in this, and get more stigmatised really."

Steve Garvey, a Christian primary school teacher in London, has also called on holiday companies to lower their prices during school breaks, so parents aren't encouraged to take their children away during term time.

He also said a balance needed to be found, between punishing able parents who are not sending their children to school, and providing support and leniency when children do not go to school because they're caring for the parents.

Mr Garvey told Premier's News Hour: "Any day that a child's missed school, whether it's primary school or secondary school, will have a severe impact.

"In fact, the Department of Education has said that one week missed by a child will mean they're 25 percent less likely to achieve good GCSE results.

"The prices then are considerably lower if you take your child out of school during school term time, compared to what they are during the holidays.

"A bit of an onus needs to be put on the holiday companies to try and level out this discrepancy in prices which affects parents in such a negative way.

"Fines of up to 2500 pounds, community orders, jail of up to three months for some families as well. There has to be a balance drawn between the needs of the parents, and the child who might be acting as a carer for that family, and the necessity to realise that a child's place between the ages of 5 and 16 is in school."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Clive Ireson here:

Listen to Premier's Des Busteed speaking to Steve Garvey on the News Hour:

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