Ofsted to blame over truancy says Bucks County Council education chief

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NEWS

Head teachers are forced to be strict with parents whose children miss school during term due to the education watchdog’s rigorous assessments, according to cabinet member for education at Bucks County Council, Mike Appleyard.

Councillor Appleyard said there are “increasing pressures” on teachers, however it is not clear why the number has increased so dramatically.

He added that headteachers are put in a “difficult” position by Ofsted as schools are penalised if the number of unauthorised absences are high.

He said: “There are two reasons for penalties – taking kids out of the country and attending school on an irregular basis.

“There are all these pressures but we don’t know what the reason is. All I would say is both the Government and the local authority are will stick with being rigorous with attending school.”

Figures revealed following a Freedom of Information request show BCC issued 765 penalties to parents for their children’s absences in 2014/15, compared with 1,493 in 2016/17.

Parents are only handed a penalty notice if their child is absent for more than five days at a time due to truancy or term-time holidays.

Cllr Appleyard said BCC plans to carry out surveys and talk to head teachers in a bid to establish why more children are missing school, however it won’t be “top priority”.

He added: “I have looked at the numbers and I am not happy. We have now got to do some polling and look at the numbers and see what we come up with.

“Our main priority at the moment is to get the performance of children from poorer backgrounds, to get their performance up.”

However a spokesman for Ofsted said while the number of unauthorised absences are considered during an inspection, it would not be the deciding factor as to which rating the school receives.

The spokesman said: “Head teachers and the Local Authority are responsible for the penalties issued to parents for unauthorised absences from schools.

“During an inspection, we will look at the levels of unauthorised absences and may consider the effectiveness of school policies if levels are high.

“Levels of absence is one issue considered on inspection and would never be the sole reason a school receives a certain judgement.”