Truancy head teachers in Manchester get data training

Head teachers in Manchester have been offered classes in how to gather data on parents who allow their children to truant from school.

Staff at the city's 170 primary and secondary schools have been invited by the city council to attend the sessions which start in November.

Heads will be shown on how to keep records on which measures have been taken to help families.

The records could be used as evidence against parents in court.

A council spokeswoman said that the records must be kept accurately and stand up to legal scrutiny.

She said: "It's important that records are kept correctly on which measures have been tried to help families, so that if the council does have to resort to legal action it can demonstrate that all avenues have been explored.

"We would not ask schools to undertake prosecutions as they are always carried out by the local authority."

Kieran McDermott, deputy director of children's services at Manchester City Council, said: "The training sessions are to help ensure schools are keeping detailed records of the work they are doing with parents, the support that parents are being given, and the various strategies that they have tried with individual pupils to improve their attendance.

'Adversarial position'

"Prosecution is only ever a last resort, but detailed records of this kind are important when cases do go to court.

"Every day that a child misses school, their learning and that of other children in their class is affected.

"Schools work very hard with parents to support them where necessary in making sure their children are in school when they should be."

Parents of truanting children can be fined up to £2,500 or be jailed for 12 weeks if prosecuted successfully.

In the first half of 2010 Manchester City Council took legal action over 235 cases and issued 554 penalty notices.

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