Truancy flaws

6th December 1996 at 00:00
Headteacher Stephen Sexton (TES, November 22) is quite right to point out the flaw in the truancy league tables. It is grossly unfair that those schools which enforce a strict interpretation of the guidelines on authorised and unauthorised absence should be publicly admonished in league tables.

They have clearly recognised they have an attendance problem and by a strict following of the guidelines seek to identify the problem in order to effectively tackle it. It does however appear that some schools do indeed take a more relaxed approach, authorising absences which schools in the first category would not. Perhaps some clarity is required from the Department for Education and Employment and the Office for Standards in Education on this issue. And if there has to be a truancy league table, should there not be a column giving a mark for the effort which a school takes in trying to improve pupil attendance?

Furthermore, the law recognises that it is a parent's responsibility to ensure attendance at school. So why should schools be publicly pilloried for parental failings? Rather than wasting resources compiling public league tables could not the DFEE spend its money more prudently and effectively by providing a full-time social workerattendance officercounsellor for schools with perceived attendance problems.

MICHAEL McILROY

2 Squires Close

Preston

Lancashire

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