Truancy ‘still an issue’ as parents face benefits cut

Coun John Jones
Coun John Jones
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The number of children skipping school in Blackpool remains a problem, the council’s education boss has admitted.

Coun John Jones spoke out after government plans to slash the benefits of parents who fail to pay truancy penalties were announced.

He said: “We have issues across the board, particularly in secondary school.

“Obviously the government thinks this is a tool to use to make sure children are being sent to school.”

The Prime Minister recently announced plans to tackle the 40 per cent of parents who fail to pay the £60 penalty, which is dished out when pupils miss school and doubles to £120 after 21 days if it is unpaid. Truancy penalties are dished out by the schools themselves, but Coun Jones said the council was keen to work with parents whose children have mitigating circumstances.

The Gazette reported in January last year how between September 2012 and March 2013, 47 prosecutions were brought against parents or guardians for failing to ensure children attended lessons in Blackpool.

He said: “The most important issue is that parents make sure their children get into school, not only for their education but also for safeguarding purposes.

“We need to make sure children get a good start in life and have the opportunity for a good career.

“We take parents to court but only as a last resort. We have all got to do things by law and if it’s the law to send children to school - which it is - there are consequences for not doing that.

“If there are mitigating circumstances, we will work with the school and parents to make sure every support is given so the child gets an education.”

David Cameron said: “There is nothing responsible about allowing your child to go without an education.”