Truancy Rate Rise Makes Mockery of Labour Pledge; Sharp Increase Linked to Explosion in Youth Crime
Patel, Pravina, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)
Byline: PRAVINA PATEL
TRUANCY has risen by 11.4 per cent since Labour came to power in 1997 despite a Government pledge to cut it by a third.
Teenagers skipping class notched up the equivalent of an astonishing 4.7 million lost school days during the 2000-01 academic year compared to 4.2 million five years ago.
The news will concern the police, education, welfare and youth workers who believe there is a direct link between truancy and juvenile crime.
A recent survey carried out by the Youth Justice Board revealed young people are three times more likely to offend if they are not in school.
Last night Shadow Education Secretary Damian Green demanded urgent action.
He said: 'Truancy not only damages the education of children, it all too often is the start of a criminal lifestyle.
'The truancy figures are shocking, given the Government is making so much play of youth crime. We know there is a clear link between truancy and the rising tide of youth crime.
And announcements like spot fines will just be meaningless gimmicks if the Government fails to deal effectively with rising truancy.' Parents are seen as a major part of the problem. 'Truancy sweeps' piloted by police last year revealed that three-quarters of truants stopped by police were with an adult.
A spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers said: 'The pupil's absence is often contrived by parents who allow the child to stay at home or decide to take the child somewhere on a school day. …