Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Finding Myself Agreeing With A Tory.

The news that Parents of children who are regular school truants are to be fined up to £120, seems at first glance a reasonable idea.

The new measures to tackle school absence rates  instigated by the Welsh Assembly come into force in September.

Parents who fail to stop their child missing lessons will be issued a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will double if they fail to pay within 28 days.

Those who ignore the new regulations could end up in court.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said there was a "general agreement" with his proposals following a public consultation.

His "general agreement" however  doesn't hold water as all three opposition parties  have voiced disquiet over this measure.

Conservative education spokesperson Angela Burns AM said she feared fines would stack up while behaviour remained largely unchanged.

"This is a lazy Labour government piling all its eggs into a basket of punishment at the expense of support and liaison," she said.
"There is a real danger that these fines will hit the most vulnerable hardest and ignore the real reasons behind truancy."

Welsh Liberal Democrat education spokesman Aled Roberts described the Welsh government's decision as counter-productive.

"Evidence shows that children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to play truant and achieve poorer educational outcomes.
"I am concerned that fining parents of truant pupils will cause them even more economic hardship and will do nothing to address the problems of their child missing vital school hours."

Simon Thomas for Plaid Cymru said he backed policies to support pupils and families to tackle truancy, rather than introduce fines.

"Introducing fixed penalty notices are a retrograde step," .
"They have not worked when they were introduced in England. The education minister needs to state where any money raised will go."
It comes to something when all three opposition parties take a sensible approach ' 

The problem is that even if the parents frogmarch their children to school  there is no guarantee they stay there.

As one parent  Suzanne Lewis has a suspended prison sentence over daughter Shauna's school attendance record.said back in March on the BBC Week in Week out programe which dealt with the problem said.
 "They want to see me getting her to the school gates. That's what we've done.
"We've got up in the morning, taken her to the school and then we've had phone calls [to] pick her back up, perhaps an hour after.
"She won't go into class with the other children and she will not do any work. I'll most probably end up in prison because of it."
Shauna said: "Mam shouldn't be going through that really because it's not her fault why all this has happened.
"I do feel guilty sometimes. I was scared in case they put her in prison because I don't know what I'd do without my mam."

If a parent has done every thing possible to get their children to school how can fining them especially if they are on very low income help matters?.

What about the parents of children who are truant because of persistent bullying? Should they be fined?

Couldn't it lead to child abuse as the parents physically take it out on the errant child?

This another example of Leighton Andrews way of doing things . He believes that it is more important to appear dynamic and decisive rather than do the right thing which may nor grab the headlines.

Once again we have a policy that will not solve the problem but is aimed at convincing the public that the Assembly government are doing something.

What we need is to carry on talking to parents and children to find the reason for their truancy and address it 

As the NUT Cymru policy officer Owen Hatchway pointed out:
 "We know that persistent truancy is a problem for schools.
"However, this is an issue where substantial progress is being made. The latest figures show record levels of attendance in the primary sector and significant improvements in attendance in secondary schools.
"Whilst no one should rest on their laurels, the union is concerned that the introduction of truancy fines could have a counterproductive impact and undermine the good work being undertaken."

When you find yourself agreeing with the words "This is a lazy Labour government piling all its eggs into a basket of punishment at the expense of support and liaison,"  and realising that came from a Tory . There's something seriously wrong with Labours proposals.

Update 3:00PM

Not only am I agreeing with a Tory  I find  Liberal Aled  Roberts has shown that Leighton Andrews claim there was a "general agreement" with his proposals following a public consultation was totally misleading.
There were just 53 responses to this consultation, including only 12 of the 22 Welsh local authorities, along with 16 schools/headteachers and 12 parents/carers. Of those 53, only just over half – 55% – agreed with the penalty notice option.
It is appalling that a senior minister can attempt to claim major support for his measures when he clearly hasn't.


  1. Sorry Glyn, I'm with Leighton Andrews on this and Plaid are wrong.

    Yes, there will be initially some parents coming under a lot of pressure but as a parent I know that when I tell my kids that the police can fine me if they don't wear their seat-belt my kids listen.

    The word will soon get around that parents are punished by the actions of their kids. This gives a child who may not want to play truant but does so to join a gang a good excuse not to mitch school. it's the kind of excuse other kids would understand. It also develops responsibility in the parent and child.

    Leighton Andrews is right.

    1. There's surely a big difference between telling your kids to do up their seat belts and truancy.

      With seat belts you could tell them your not going anywhere if they not done up anyway.

      I'm not sure that children will understand the implication of a fine,

  2. Sorry Glyn, I've spent a lot of time asking my kids to do up seat-belts etc. telling them that the law enforces it give me an extra piece of amunition. They understand the law being 'nasty to dad' or dad paying a fine which means less pocket money for them better than they understand the possibility of death.

    This is all about mood music. By fining parents for children on the mitch Andrews is creating a culture which tells parents and kids that education is important. It's not the fine which is important - I'm sure very few will be fined - it's the message and the threat.