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Truancy blame shifting to parents

JACQUI Smith's extraordinary report (TES, January 5) that 80 of the 91 children found truanting at Kempton Park were with a relative illustrates how illogical it has been in the past to hold schools responsible for pupil absence.

This Government set out to apply "pressure and support", in the name of raising standards. Pressure - from reform, inspection, the media and an escalating burden of responsiility - has had positive and adverse effects. But there are definite signs that the pressure is being followed by support and, thankfully, the culture of blame is beginning to be lifted. This evidence of condoned truancy will be welcomed by teachers who are aware of the practice and now feel vindicated.

George Varnava Vice-president, College of Teachers 5 Wheatlands Lane Newbury, Berkshire

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