Truants cast out of clubs

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
A secondary school in Barking has developed a new punishment for parents who take pupils on holiday during term: banning their children from after-school clubs and trips for six months.

Staff at Jo Richardson community school claim the deterrent is both tougher and more appropriate than fines which the Government will introduce in March. Under powers introduced in the Anti-social Behaviour Bill, heads will be able to issue penalty notices of up to pound;100 to parents whose children are absent without permission. The fines have been opposed by headteachers' unions.

Andy Buck, head of Jo Richardson, said banning pupils from clubs and trips was a more effective penalty because parents were more fearful of damaging their children's enjoyment of school than losing money.

Since launching the punishment last year, none of the new school's 360 pupils have been taken on unauthorised holidays.

Mr Buck said: "Some people might argue that we are punishing the pupils. We think that it brings home to parents that if they want to support their child's education they should be in school."

Margaret Morrissey, National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations spokeswoman, said: "Two wrongs don't make a right. The parents may be wrong to take children on holiday during the term but that should not be a reason to penalise the pupils."

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