Home Barking, Dagenham, & Surrounding Areas Havering tackle truancy: ‘kids missing school to tend to pets and celebrate birthdays’

Havering tackle truancy: ‘kids missing school to tend to pets and celebrate birthdays’

Schools will work with parents to get to the root of issues.

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Havering council tackle school absences

Havering Council has initiated a programme to tackle truancy in the borough.

The purpose of this campaign is to educate both teachers and parents about how skipping classes can severely affect a child’s education in the long run.

Last year saw the introduction of a new law, allowing local government to partner with both public schools and academies to investigate attendance records and come up with effective solutions to the issue.

Havering is currently doing better than the national average when it comes to school attendance, with 94 per cent of primary school students being present compared to the national rate of 93.7%, and 92.3% of secondary school students present compared to 91% nationwide.

However, the council is exploring means to increase these figures.

Councillor Oscar Ford, the person in charge of issues regarding children and youth, highlighted the potential consequences which can occur when students are chronically absent, such as being penalized monetarily.

He said: “In addition to not attending school, pupils are marked as absent if they arrive late for school.

“Being just five minutes late each day adds up to three lost school days; being 15 minutes late is the equivalent to 10 lost days.

“Schools will work with parents and carers to get to the root of any issue and to find ways to help them get their child back in school.”

A spokesperson from the council stated that a school attendance team visits each school in Havering on a quarterly basis to investigate attendance logs and find any ways to improve them.

Many students gave explanations for why they were away from school during these trips, such as having obligations like looking after animals and taking care of relatives.

Going on vacation while school is in session, birthdays, sleeping in too long, seeing family members, and buying new shoes or uniforms were other excuses given by students.

Cllr. Ford emphasised the significance of regular school attendance not only for academic advancement but also for the social and psychological well-being of students.

He added: “Being late or missing school means they can miss out on playtime or socialising with their friends which then affects their friendships.

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“Pupils also fall behind in their work and then feel anxious if they are asked a question they can’t answer.”

According to him, this can have a “knock-on effect” that discourages students from attending school altogether.

Cllr Ford added: “Anyone who has concerns or needs more information should speak to their child’s class teacher.”

Additionally, he emphasised that a variety of assistance and support are available, and that parents should communicate any concerns with the school.

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