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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Walney School pupils £50 truancy fines warning

PARENTS of Walney School pupils have received letters saying they could be fined £50 if their children do not attend classes.

From next Tuesday, the school will be issuing fixed penalty notices for “poor school attendance and persistent lateness”.

The letter states “the fast track to prosecution will begin with a letter to parents if their child’s attendance falls below 90 per cent”.

Headteacher Alan Dickenson said: “We are not looking to be punitive. The letter only states the law as it is. Until now, the school has left it to the local authority to issue penalty notices. It certainly isn’t a power we are adopting because we want to use it more than it currently is.

“It doesn’t indicate any change at all.”

Schools have a number of options for dealing with pupil attendance, from voluntary parenting contracts to taking more serious cases to court.

Until now, the use of these fines has been rare, with only three issued across Barrow and South Lakeland in the first six months of this school year. Chairman of governors, Dennis Laird, said attendance at the school went up 1.1 per cent in just a week since students were first told of the plans. He said: “We made this decision because it was felt a minority of parents are not acting responsibly. It is something we have been monitoring closely for some time and we felt the time was right.’’

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, says she was shocked when she received the letter on Tuesday. She said: “I am concerned they are not looking at the reasons behind the low attendance.

“You need to look at each case individually or you could end up fining the wrong people.”

Mr Dickenson said: “I would like to stress that this only covers unauthorised absences. If a child is ill this will not affect them.

“For the vast majority of parents it will never be an issue.”

The letter to parents states that the school treats attendance as ‘one of their most important responsibilities’.

In it Mr Dickenson asks parents not to take holidays in term time and to ‘understand the difference between minor ailments and the sort of illness that warrants a day off’.

Have your say

To Dave Kerr,the head didnt decide on whether or not to strike! The strikes where over pension plans! Staff paying another £40 a month to get 8% less when they retire and retiring much later! Some people have short memories! The '88 VSEL strike was over FIXED holidays! this went on for 6 months was that a minor difference to people's terms of employment that warrented a strike! I dont think so!!

Posted by me on 7 May 2012 at 15:44

‘understand the difference between minor ailments and the sort of illness that warrants a day off’ As long as he understands the difference between minor complaints and the sort that warrants a day of strikes.

Posted by Dave Kerr on 7 May 2012 at 09:07

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