Redbridge will continue to take tough line on persistent absence as government increases fines for truancy

PARENTS of children who are persistently absent from school have been warned to expect tough action from Redbridge Council.

Local authorities can fine parents whose children miss more than 15 per cent of a school year £50 rising to £100 if the fine is not paid within 28 days.

And the government is set to increase those penalties to £60 and £120 respectively this year.

Data for 2011/12 shows Redbridge took a tough line on absenteeism pursuing 254 prosecutions and issuing parents with 1,146 penalty notices for persistent absence.

Those figures are significantly higher than neighbouring boroughs Barking and Dagenham with 31 prosecutions and 232 penalty notices, Havering with 59 prosecutions and 505 penalty notices and Waltham Forest with 62 prosecutions and 600 penalty notices.

Alan Weinberg, the council’s cabinet member for Children’s services, says the local authority will continue to take a tough line on truancy.

He added: “I would actually have liked to see the fines go up by more.

“We have excellent schools and will continue to pursue parents of those children who are persistently absent.

“The majority realise there are quite enough holidays without taking their children out of school during term time.

“But there are still those who do take liberties and we will fine them.”

Levels of attendance in Redbridge primary schools stood at 95.6 per cent in 2011/12, while in secondary schools the figure was 95.1 per cent.

And while the figure for primary schools has remained below the national average since 2007/08, the figure for secondary schools is one of the highest in the country.

Dr Paul Doherty, head teacher of Trinity High School in Woodford Green, says Redbridge’s tough line on truancy and absenteeism should be followed by other local authorities.

He added: “They are very hot on attendance and punctuality and that is a big part of why the borough’s schools perform so well.

“If a child is not in school, then no matter how good the teachers are that child will not do well.

“We aim for 100 per cent attendance and if any of our children slip beneath 98 per cent then we focus in on them immediately.

“I applaud the government for putting up the fines and Redbridge for taking such a hard line on the matter.”

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