A CRACKDOWN on parents who allow their children to play truant has been welcomed by a Portsmouth headteacher who says it is high time the issue was taken seriously.
Adam Dare, of King Richard School, says missing school for holidays or other non-emergencies is unacceptable.
But he admitted that docking the cost of truancy fines from child benefit – a move recommended by government advisor Charlie Taylor – could harm youngsters who most need education.
Mr Dare, whose school has seen attendance rise from 88 to 93 per cent in two years through a combined strategy of £50 fixed penalty notices and rewards, said: ‘We need to take education seriously. Parents get mixed messages – a lot of them believe they’re entitled to two weeks off in term-time for holidays.
‘We don’t sanction any holiday in school term-time. Good attendance equals good results.’
He added: ‘I welcome Charlie Taylor’s strong stance, but I’m not comfortable with the detail.
‘I’ve always thought the best thing to do is take away the flat screen TVs or Sky box – taking away child benefit could be taking away food from a child.
‘I’d prefer to see some joined-up thinking with social services and the NHS.’
Mr Taylor, who led a review by a team of experts into cutting truancy, also suggested increasing fines to £60.
However out of 127,000 penalty notices issued since their introduction in 2004, around half were unpaid or withdrawn.