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Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK


Education

'Swipecard' to cut truancy

The government has pledged to cut truancy by a third

Pupils in schools with truancy problems are to be given 'swipecards' to help monitor attendance.

Pupils will use the electronic attendance cards to 'clock in' at the beginning of lessons, so that staff can track when classes are being missed.

The pilot scheme is to be announced by the Home Office this week as part of a package of measures to reduce youth crime.

The link between children playing truant and crime has previously been highlighted by the government, with claims that two-thirds of school-age offenders have a record of truancy or exclusion from school.

The pilot scheme, which will begin in schools with 'severe' truancy problems, is to be announced by Home Office Minister Charles Clarke, a former education minister.

Larger fines

The cards, which could carry a picture of the pupil, will be the latest effort to support schools which have difficulties in keeping pupils in lessons - with the government setting a target of cutting truancy by a third by 2002.

At this year's Labour party conference, the Education Secretary David Blunkett announced that there would be larger fines for parents of persistent truants - up to £5,000 per couple per child.

A £500m campaign against truancy has included the granting of greater powers to police to catch truants and encouragement for schools to play a more active role in contacting parents when pupils fail to attend.



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