No way out for infants

FOUR-YEAR-old truants in London could soon be targeted by specially-trained education officers.

The radical proposals, which could be in force by April, include creating a team of officers to work with nursery, primary and special schools, as well as prosecuting more parents who fail to get their children to school.

The scheme is part of Camden council's bid to meet Government targets to cut truancy by a third by 2001. Mohammed Mehmet, the council's assistant director of education, said: "Truancy and poor attendance is a clear issue in Camden. We don't do attendance work with early-years pupils. That is nonsense; we need to drive the message home early."

Schools have broadly welcomed the proposals. Linda Lefevre, headteacher at Brecknock primary, said: "I am quite fierce in nursery classes about attendance. Children of five and six will fall behind if they miss school.

"There is a strong link between achievement and regular attendance so it is important to establish a good pattern early on."

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