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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

AM hits out over new truancy penalties

North Wales Assembly Member Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Education, has described yesterday's announcement that fixed penalty notices will be issued to parents whose children are regularly absent from school, as counter-productive.

The Minister's decision has been based on the results of a consultation carried out between November 2012 and February 2013.

Mr Roberts said: "I believe this is a disproportionate response to a problem which requires a far more creative response than a fining system.

"Evidence shows that children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to play truant and achieve poorer educational outcomes. I am concerned that fining parents of truant pupils will cause them even more economic hardship and will do nothing to address the problems of their child missing vital school hours.

"It is also crucial that we consider the reasons why children are often absent from school.

"There were just 53 responses to this consultation, including only 12 of the 22 Welsh local authorities, along with 16 schools/headteachers and 12 parents/carers. Of those 53, only just over half - 55% - agreed with the penalty notice option.

"Fixed penalty fines can never replace targeted intervention and effective engagement with pupils and parents.

"Whilst parents must take responsibility for their children's behaviour and fulfil their obligation to ensure they attend school, a community-wide approach involving parents, police and local welfare officers would be much more effective than theses punitive measures being implemented by the Education Minister.

"This is yet another attempt at a quick fix by the Minister which is unlikely to be of any benefit to the families concerned."

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