Investigation uncovers scores of kids missing weeks of school

HUNDREDS of pupils missed classes at Swindon schools and academies over the last academic year – including more than 90 who failed to show up for three weeks.

A total of 310 pupils were registered by the council as Children Missing Education (CME).

Pupils moving out of the borough and unauthorised absences, such as holidays and illnesses which have not been reported to schools, accounted for 216 of the cases.

However, another 94 children were out for 20 continuous school days, which is the trigger for the involvement of council staff and support teams. The CME policy involves a checklist to be completed if a pupil has been missing from education for five days without any contact.

It includes home visits, contacting other agencies involved with the family, identifying a professional to support the family, contacting other local authorities and legal measures.

The information for the 2011-12 school year was provided by the council after a Freedom of Information Act request by the Adver.

Coun David Renard, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We have robust systems in place in our schools to deal with truancy and unauthorised absence and this is reflected in Swindon’s persistent absence rate being below the national average.

“However, despite this, we are continually striving to improve attendance levels in our schools.

“More than two thirds of pupils classed as missing from schools in Swindon were either as a result of them moving to other local authorities or due to unauthorised absence. Of the remaining 94 pupils who were out of school for 20 continuous days, some were due to long-term illness.

“When a pupil is absent for five days the council’s education welfare team and the Children Missing Education officer are informed and various actions can be taken, including home visits, liaising with other agencies involved with the family and identifying a lead professional who will offer support.

“Action will also include contacting other local authorities to see if a child has moved out of Swindon, contacting health professionals to verify if a child is sick and, if necessary, taking legal action against parents for unauthorised absence.”

Isambard Community School has a 96 per cent attendance record and has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for preventing absences.

Deputy head for student support Neil Fortune said: “We work together as a school as a whole with teachers and heads of year, working closely with parents who will need support themselves. Any absence is picked up within a few minutes of the school day starting. If children aren’t in school, heads of year go out to talk to families and maybe check on the progress of an illness.

“We also work with outside agencies around Swindon and opened an inclusion centre in September.

“We have seen attendance records improve for children who have joined us from other schools.”

St Joseph’s Catholic College operates a zero-tolerance policy towards unauthorised absences.

A parental support advisor works with families to help them through problems and encourage parents to talk to the school about any difficulties.

Assistant principal Ben Slater said missing three weeks of school was equivalent to missing a grade or a level.

He added: “School time is for school and we have a partnership with our parents to ensure that even if they are under pressure, school attendance remains a priority. We also have a zero-tolerance policy to school time being used for other things, such as holidays.”

Comments (6)

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10:08pm Wed 7 Nov 12

Bobfm , says...

Here's a tip for you Adver - submit an FOI asking the same questions to Headlands Academy and see what comes up
Here's a tip for you Adver - submit an FOI asking the same questions to Headlands Academy and see what comes up Bobfm ,

10:10pm Wed 7 Nov 12

house on the hill says...

That is appalling, there are many things schools can do to predict and combat truancy and a lot cheaper than dealing with the consquences. They are letting the children down!
That is appalling, there are many things schools can do to predict and combat truancy and a lot cheaper than dealing with the consquences. They are letting the children down! house on the hill

7:31am Thu 8 Nov 12

Ian13 says...

Surely it's the parents letting the children down by not ensuring they go to school - it's their responsibility.
Surely it's the parents letting the children down by not ensuring they go to school - it's their responsibility. Ian13

8:32am Thu 8 Nov 12

Flipflops Plane says...

I know I'm generalising here but its probably better these kids dont go to school as all they do when they are there is disrupt the learning of others.
I know I'm generalising here but its probably better these kids dont go to school as all they do when they are there is disrupt the learning of others. Flipflops Plane

8:38am Thu 8 Nov 12

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Its not the schools letting the kids down. They are open for learning so what more can they do.

If council Renard thinks the council/schools have robust policies, then he must be mistaken; since a significant portion of these are children moving school. The lack of communication suggests a failing process for dealing with changes and transfers.
Its not the schools letting the kids down. They are open for learning so what more can they do. If council Renard thinks the council/schools have robust policies, then he must be mistaken; since a significant portion of these are children moving school. The lack of communication suggests a failing process for dealing with changes and transfers. LordAshOfTheBrake

9:36am Thu 8 Nov 12

I 2 Could B says...

It's no wonder this country has no money:

However, another 94 children were out for 20 continuous school days, which is the trigger for the involvement of council staff and support teams. The CME policy involves a checklist to be completed if a pupil has been missing from education for five days without any contact.

It includes home visits, contacting other agencies involved with the family, identifying a professional to support the family, contacting other local authorities and legal measures.

Maybe the Adver could make a FOI request to discover just how much that little lot costs us all in respect of just one child/family - let alone 94 of them. My guess is that it runs to about £2000 to £3000 per child. So about quarter of a million quid a year simply because feckless parent(s) can't be bothered to send their kids to school.

In other countries, education is viewed as almost sacred, a priviledge and something to be embraced. Why? Because it's one of the few things in life that can only ever be personally beneficial. And yet in this country some people take it for granted and 'can't be bothered'.

It does make me laugh when you hear kids, and adults, defend criminal behaviour from youngsters by claiming, 'there's nothing for them to do'. I fully suspect that most such criminal kids are the same ones who skip school and hang around with 'nothing to do'... oh, the irony.
It's no wonder this country has no money: [quote] However, another 94 children were out for 20 continuous school days, which is the trigger for the involvement of council staff and support teams. The CME policy involves a checklist to be completed if a pupil has been missing from education for five days without any contact. It includes home visits, contacting other agencies involved with the family, identifying a professional to support the family, contacting other local authorities and legal measures. [/quote] Maybe the Adver could make a FOI request to discover just how much that little lot costs us all in respect of just one child/family - let alone 94 of them. My guess is that it runs to about £2000 to £3000 per child. So about quarter of a million quid a year simply because feckless parent(s) can't be bothered to send their kids to school. [p] In other countries, education is viewed as almost sacred, a priviledge and something to be embraced. Why? Because it's one of the few things in life that can only ever be personally beneficial. And yet in this country some people take it for granted and 'can't be bothered'. [p] It does make me laugh when you hear kids, and adults, defend criminal behaviour from youngsters by claiming, 'there's nothing for them to do'. I fully suspect that most such criminal kids are the same ones who skip school and hang around with 'nothing to do'... oh, the irony. I 2 Could B

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