Court action for truancy reduced across Mansfield and Ashfield

Simon Martin, headteacher at Sutton Centre Community College.
Simon Martin, headteacher at Sutton Centre Community College.

FIGURES released by Nottinghamshire County Council show the number of Mansfield ansd Ashfield parents summoned to court over their children’s truancy in primary and secondary schools has almost halved over the last three years.

According to the county council the figure fell from 78 summons in the 2009-10 academic year to 44 summons in 2011-12.

Figures from the Department for Education also show that the percentage of half days missed through unauthorised absence in Nottinghamshire has dropped from 1.34 per cent in the Spring term of 2009 to 1 per cent in 2012’s Spring term.

Simon Martin, headteacher at Sutton Centre Community College, said: “We have worked very hard to increase attendance and intervention in cases of persistent absence. The first priority is to get them into school so they can learn.

“There is a high correlation between attendance and (pupils’) eventual success in GCSEs. We have found the most successful approach is to work with parents.”

Teachers at the school have an agreement with parents of truants in which they bring their children to school where they are signed over to a member of staff who ensures they attend lessons.

John Peck, a former Mansfield Woodhouse headteacher and member of the National Association of Headteachers, said the fall in unauthorised absences was very welcome. He added: “It is interesting to see that the number of prosecutions has also fallen and that perhaps indicates that the firm action the authority, schools and teachers have taking is having an effect.”

Coun Philip Owen, committee chairman for children and young people at the county council, said: “We don’t want to take people to court. That is our last step. We are working much closer with families that have had issues with non-attendance at school and therefore we have not had to resort to court action quite as frequently.”

Coun Owen said the figures justified the approach Nottinghamshire County Council had been taking.