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TOUGHER LINE ON TRUANTS; Schools to discuss new ideas.

SCHOOL truants in Rugby are to be targeted in a hard-hitting initiative developed by Warwickshire education chiefs.

The county has pledged to reduce truancy levels by a further third by 2002 through a series of schemes to support schools.

Warwickshire's truancy figures are already below the national level. Options being considered to further improve attendance levels include the appointment and management of attendance assistants, trained under a partnership with the county's education social work service.

All schools are likely to be given extra money to fight truancy, but ideas being considered include:

Repayment of the cash if the school's target is not reached.

Schools with above average truancy would pay into a fund to support a small legal team targeting truancy through the legal process and new legal enforcement powers.

lA fund to support a centralised early response team to target pupils as soon as they start truanting.

Consultation will start next month to discuss the ideas, which have been given a cautious welcome by Mark Braine, head teacher of Avon Valley School in Newbold Road, Rugby.

Mr Braine said truancy was not a major problem at his school but it was dealt with very directly. He would support any option of firm legal action against parents.

Mr Braine said: "I would hope any of these proposals is backed up by a firm policy of prosecuting parents of non-attenders.

"I would be less happy with any school budget being intercepted to pay for services which the authority should be providing for anyway."

County education officer Eric Wood will explain the options at a meeting on June 6 of the county's special educational needs policy advisory group.

Mr Wood said: "By offering a flexible range of options, schools will be able to choose the system which suits them best and ensure that available resources are used effectively."
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Author:Hutson, Andrew
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 27, 2000
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