Parents warned: Send your children to school or face court

Pupils in the classroom
Pupils in the classroom
Newbridge Junior School Picture: Maria Bujor

Children in Need: Junior School has a pretty perfect Pudsey plan

  • Parents urged to get their children to school
  • 6.4 per cent of children absent from secondary school in 2013/14
  • Parents could face a fine or court
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SEND your children to school – or face the consequences.

That’s the warning from education leaders across the area for the new academic year.

We are committed to supporting children and young people to get the best possible education, but we can’t help youngsters to fulfil their full potential if they aren’t attending school

Councillor Neill Young

Statistics released by Portsmouth City Council show figures for absent pupils are still above the national average, with 6.4 per cent of children off secondary school over the academic year, compared with 5.2 per cent nationally, in 2013/14.

In Gosport, 6.1 per cent of children were absent from secondary school in 2013/14 and 5.5 per cent were absent in Havant. Meanwhile, in Fareham the figure was below the national average, at 4.9 per cent.

Penalty notices of £60 or £120 can be issued by headteachers to parents for pupil non-attendance. It comes as two parents were fined by magistrates over their son’s poor school attendance.

Wayne and Rebecca Eastman, from Paulsgrove, were convicted after their son Harrison, 13, consistently missed school.

Councillor Neill Young, in charge of children and education at Portsmouth City Council, has warned that tough stance will continue as part of a clampdown in the county to improve attendance.

He said: ‘As we start the new academic year I want to send a clear message to parents. We are committed to supporting children and young people to get the best possible education, but we can’t help youngsters to fulfil their full potential if they aren’t attending school.

‘Parents who allow their children to truant are not damaging themselves, but their children’s future.’

Councillor Peter Edgar is in charge of education at Hampshire County Council. He said: ‘Schools now are under more pressure than ever before in history to deliver a quality education.

‘If children are absent from lessons and taking unnecessary time out it affects the chances of schools being successful with exam results and Ofsted.

‘It’s crucial that children don’t miss any of their education and they are only off when it’s absolutely necessary through sickness or family problems.

‘Schools want to be successful and if a large number of pupils are absent that can be catastrophic for exam results.’

Gareth Hughes, who is the headteacher at King Richard School in Paulsgrove, said it was down to parents to make sure their children attended.

He said: ‘Regular attendance at school makes a huge difference to GCSE success. We employ our own staff to monitor attendance and ensure children are in school as much as possible.

‘Registers are taken for every lesson, parents are contacted when their children are not in school and meetings held to try and solve any problems that may be leading to too much time off school.

‘If attendance remains a concern then we will use the legal powers available to us to make sure parents send their children to school.

‘The vast majority of parents understand the importance of school and want the best for their children.

‘However, there are some who don’t and it is these parents that we have to work with to demonstrate that education really will make a difference to their child’s future health, prosperity and wellbeing.’

The powers that councils have to insist on education

AUTHORITIES can’t take parents to court without first getting an order to monitor the pupil’s education.

A council can apply for a School Attendance Order if it thinks a pupil is not attending a school.

This requires parents to register children. If this is not done then the council can prosecute parents.

Authorities can also apply for an Education Supervision Order to be put on the child and the local authority and it is set by the court. Authorities can ask parents to take part in parenting contracts, which are voluntary.