Parents warned over school truancy figures

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COUNCIL bosses have urged against term time holidays after 432 Suffolk parents were taken to court in the last three years over school truancy.

Bosses at Suffolk County Council say the challenging economic climate and the low prices of term time holidays could partly account for the number of parents failing to ensure their child attends school.

In 2011, 155 parents were taken to court after consistent non attendance and ignoring support offered.

The previous year, 156 were prosecuted compared to 121 in 2009.

They face an average fine of £165 if convicted but also run the risk of a prison sentence.

The county council would move to prosecute at the request of a school when all other reasonable measures have been taken to try to improve attendance.

Adrian Orr, senior adviser for social inclusion at the authority, warned of the risks pupils face by skipping class.

He said: “Studies have shown that continual absence from school can have a negative impact on a child’s attainment, potentially causing them to drop a grade at GCSE level.

“We recognise that we are in a challenging economic climate and prices for holidays go up at the beginning of the school holiday period.

“However, our challenge is to get parents to ask ‘what is the real price of a cheap holiday?’ Long term it could affect their child’s attainment.

“Term-time holidays should only be authorised in exceptional circumstances.”