Truants 'want respect'

22nd September 2006 at 01:00
Bad teacher-pupil relationships can be a major cause of truancy, according to a survey of Bristol schoolchildren.

The study, conducted by John Dwyfor Davies and John Lee of Bristol university, suggested that children see family problems and boredom with work as significantly less important factors.

In interviews with 13 pupils and their parents, truants said they did not feel "dignified or respected" by staff. In many cases they were backed up by parents, who described schools as "arrogant" and uncommunicative.

"It's really very obvious," said Professor Davies. "For many youngsters, good relationships in school can form some kind of positive alternative to a negative home environment, but when the reverse is true, it's fight or flight."

Chris Gravell, policy officer at the Advisory Centre for Education, said:

"You need someone who is there for a child, a supportive atmosphere.

Teachers have to like the children. It's about an atmosphere of mutual respect."

However, a spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers said: "Listening to pupils' excuses doesn't deal with the reasons for truancy. Often parents collude with children's absence, taking them out to try new shoes, or using them as cheap labour in shops and market stalls.

"Ensuring that children attend school is the responsibility of parents. It is the responsibility of teachers to inspire and motivate them when they are there."

Absenteeism rose in 20045, despite the Government spending pound;885 million to tackle it. Every day 55,000 pupils are out of school.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now