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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Victorian values tackle truancy
Truancy has continued to trouble schools
A local authority is reviving a Victorian approach to tackling the stubborn problem of truancy.

While education authorities have tried hi-tech monitoring, cash rewards or jail threats, Kingston council is promising a "Mayor's Medal".

Last issued in 1920, the medals will be awarded to pupils who have 100% attendance record for a whole year.

This upright, municipal recognition of perfect attendance was very popular before the First World War.

This week, the first pupils in the capital for several generations will be given medals for good attendance.

Medal winning

Yogan Yoganathan, the mayor of the south-west London borough, is to give medals to 300 pupils, reviving a form of reward that was widely-used by school boards in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

In London, such medals for good attendance were issued from 1886, in an attempt to reinforce the message that school attendance was compulsory for pupils.

The medal-giving was discontinued in the wake of the First World War - to be replaced by certificates, which stopped with the outbreak of the Second World War.

Last week's annual figures showed that England's truancy rate was showing no signs of falling - with an estimated 55,000 pupils missing lessons each day.

In response, the government is threatening fast-track prosecutions which could lead to jail sentences for parents - and there have been proposals for hi-tech solutions, using text messages and electronic registration for lessons.

Ming Zhang, Kingston's principal education welfare officer, who has championed the re-introduction of the mayor's medals, says that "truancy and attendance can be addressed in a positive way".

Teenage truancy increases sharply
21 Sep 05 |  Education
Truants 'missing half a term'
01 Aug 05 |  Education

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