Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Truancy and exclusions

The minister Jacqui Smith sent two letters to chief education officers on 4 July regarding truancy and behaviour.

The first addresses progress on school collaboratives for improving behaviour and persistent truancy. The DfES expects these to be in effect by September 2007.

The letter stated that 60 authorities had already expressed their commitment and many more were thought to be taking work forward.

The minister emphasised that collaboratives should grow from existing partnerships, rather than creating new arrangements with a whole new set of overheads.

Importantly, she also stressed that local authorities should devolve funding to collaboratives from their centrally held behaviour support budget.

Members already in partnerships or forums may want to approach their local authority now to suggest how funding could be devolved to their schools.

SHA has posted a good practice guide to attendance on the website at www.sha.org.uk which may be useful to schools in taking this forward.

John Dunford has also responded to the minister to express our disappointment that the letter did not point out the need for local authorities to minimise bureaucracy for schools and for the governance and accountability to be in tune with the new relationship with schools. We will continue to stress the need for this.

The second letter to chief education officers looked at truancy levels, accompanied with absentee data for each authority. Overall levels are about the same as last year.

The DfES estimates that, in secondary schools, four per cent of schools account for almost 20 per cent of absences. The letter asked every authority to take steps to identify and deal with those pupils who truant frequently.

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