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Welsh Government announces fines for parents of children who play truant

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Welsh Government announces fines for parents of children who play truant

Post  Panda on Tue 21 May - 7:26

Welsh Government announces fines of up to £120 for parents of children who play truant20 May 2013 14:20
Education minister Leighton Andrews announces new fixed penalities, coming into the force this September, which could see parents of persistent truants fined up to £120










It is hoped the new fines system will help reduce truancy levels in Welsh schools
Parents of persistent truants will be hit with fines of up to £120, Wales’ education minister Leighton Andrews has announced.
Tough new measures to tackle school absence rates in Wales are coming into force this September.
Parents who fail to stop their child skipping lessons will be issued an initial fixed penalty notice of £60. If they fail to pay within 28 days, that fine will then double. And those ignoring the new regulations run the risk of ending up in court.
Mr Andrews today confirmed the new regulations would be in place by the start of the next academic year and said there was a “general agreement” with his proposals following a public consultation.
He said: “The penalty notice system is an additional option that can be used as part of local authority intervention strategies for less entrenched attendance issues.”
According to official figures, the average truancy rate for secondary schools in Wales in 2011/12 was 1.4%. Nine local education authorities (LEA) had higher rates, with the worst being Cardiff at 2.7%.
Although overall absence rates have been slowly decreasing each year since 2005/06, ministers say more needs to be done.
Last year, the Welsh Government launched a consultation about proposals to its fixed penalty notice system.
Government education officials today published a report into the feedback session – saying they had received 53 responses.
According to the study, 55% of respondents believed penalty notices were a good way of tackling persistent truancy – compared with 7% who disagreed. The remaining 38% did not offer a view either way.
One teacher in favour of the fines said: “The process at the moment can be slow.
“Penalty notices would ensure we can deal with unauthorised absence matters quickly in order to ensure that pupils attend school in order to receive education.”
Others said they were against the system. One respondent argued that fines would have a “disproportionate impact” on low income families – who would be at the highest risk of prosecution for non-payment.
But there appeared to be an even more diverse reaction to the idea to double the fixed penalty notices to £120 if they had not been paid within 120 days.
Only 34% agree with the hike, while 28% were against the move.
One respondent noted: “I am worried these new powers will be abused by local authorities to make easy money from families who have holidays in school time.”
Mr Andrews said the Welsh Government is to issue "detailed'' guidance on how the new penalty notice system will work.
He also confirmed it will be down to individual county councils to draw up their own “local code of conduct”.
The Labour AM for Rhondda added: “The guidance will make clear that local authorities may limit the power of issuing penalties to the authority only and not head teachers if they so wish.”
But the move has been met with criticism from opposition parties in the Welsh Assembly.
Plaid Cymru labelled the government’s move as a backwards step.
The nationalists’ education spokesman Simon Thomas said: “Fixed penalty notices have not worked since they were introduced in England.
“Ministers should be doing more to address the correlation between areas of high deprivation and high levels of absenteeism.
“And another important aspect they should also tackle is the literacy levels of those pupils not attending classes.”
Mr Thomas also said it was unclear where any money raised from the fines would go

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