12 August 2015
Commenting on the latest statistics on school truancy in England, Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“A good school attendance record is central to enabling each child to reach their full potential, developing necessary personal and social skills as well as progressing in their formal education. There can be many reasons why a child or young person is not at school, but truanting arising from complex problems will be better tackled by dealing with the cause, rather than imposing fines or imprisonment on families who may already face significant difficulties.

“We must be cautious about leaping to too many conclusions about these figures, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the impact of the latest rules which gave head teachers less discretion to authorise absence is a significant factor. Some families are only able to take holidays together during term time due to working patterns or the hike in prices during the school holiday period. It is important that head teachers are able to consider the circumstances of each family in order to make the right decisions for the children at their school. Fining parents for taking their children out of school has caused great anger amongst parents, is not supported by the majority of teachers and creates unnecessary tensions between schools and families.”

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