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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May 2004, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Jail call for 'truancy' parents
Truants
One in four pupils are missing from lessons every day, figures show
Nearly three quarters of Welsh parents say they support the jailing of those who allow their children to play truant.

The first Welsh edition of the Times Educational Supplement (TES) also found two in five admitted taking children out of school during term time. Latest figures show that in some schools as many as one in four pupils are missing from lessons every day.

Of those questioned, 74% said parents who allowed their children to play truant should be imprisoned.

It is seen as good news for local education authorities across Wales who are taking an increasingly hard line against parents.

In Carmarthenshire two mothers have been jailed in the past 18 months for allowing their children to truant.

The survey - which questioned 200 parents across Wales - also shows that 80% of parents in Wales think teachers are doing a good job.

Excellent

A total of 40% of parents of primary school children rated their teachers excellent.

But absenteeism - both truancy and authorised absences - is proving to be a difficulty for the Welsh Assembly Government.

The assembly aims to reduce overall pupil absences from the 2002-03 level of 9.5% to 8% this year.

But it says prosecuting parents for unauthorised absences should be a last resort, and has rejected England's policy of empowering education welfare officers and head teachers to issue 100 spot fines for truancy.

Instead, it is piloting the use of learning mentors and army-style outdoor activities.

The survey also revealed that a slight majority believe that parents should face legal action if their children make malicious allegations against teachers.

Support was strongest among fathers and parents of secondary-age pupils.


Are parents to blame for their children's truancy? Should parents be sent to prison if children skip school? Read some of your comments:

Once my children are dropped off at school they become the responsibility of the school. If they manage to get out and play truant after that then surely we should be asking the head teachers why they are not looking after our children as they should?
Alan, Ruthin

Don't waste taxpayers' money putting the parents in prison
Karen, London
Don't waste taxpayers' money putting the parents in prison. It would be more beneficial to everyone if they were made to perform community service.
Karen, London

Prison for truanting parents? With more people in jail than ever before and violent criminals and thieves either paroled early or given suspended sentences because there is not enough room for them - seems to me we have our priorities wrong. No point in making a 15 or 16 year old attend school if they don't want to - you have to want to learn. Let people make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own lives.
Tony, Milton Keynes

Surely if the parents are sent to jail their truant children will end up even worse off? A system of fines is much less damaging but still a good way of motivating the parents. Better still would be to educate the parents, but unfortunately that may not be practical.
Paul, Bristol, UK

Most relevant legislation has served to empower children. Can we be surprised if they use these powers, that make them untouchable, to do just as they want. Now we are trying to ban smacking. Can people not see that things are going in the wrong direction?
Spencer, Isle of Wight

A good initiative would be for shopping centres and places of leisure (e.g internet cafes) to tackle to problem with support from the local authorities. Surely children of school age should generally not be in these places during school hours.
Ed Geater, Redcard & Cleveland

Why the parents, why don't we introduce camps like they have in America - set up to deal with problems in inner cities areas. They work there - so why not here?
Steve J, Pontypool

Truanting children should be made to attend all lectures/classes with their parents! Then hopefully the whole family learns a lesson. Why should the parents suffer alone and the penalty of prison?
Christine N., London

I work near a shopping centre and I'm astonished by the number of school-aged children, accompanied by parents or grandparents that I see there. The parents seem to be well aware of what is happening.
Sarah, Leeds

I say let them truant - these are the children who are least likely to gain anything from being in lessons, moreover they are probably more likely to cause disruption in class. The less they are there, the less the problem of over populated class sizes.
Dave P, Surrey

Have any fathers been jailed for failing to send their children to school?
Jane Rafferty, Newcastle uponTyne




SEE ALSO:
Parents 'to blame for truancy'
03 May 04 |  Education
Protest at truancy sentence
31 Mar 04 |  South West Wales



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