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Working together to combat truancy in the Basingstoke area

Thursday, 10 October 2013

As part of the Supporting (Troubled) Families initiative, Hampshire County Council and partners including the Police, will be stepping up their support and intervention to tackle incidents of truancy.

An innovative pilot is taking place in Basingstoke involving a number of agencies, including the Police and Police Community Safety Officers, working with the County Council in supporting schools to tackle unauthorised absence.

Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children's Services at Hampshire County Council, said: "In line with the rest of the county, Basingstoke has excellent school attendance rates compared to the national average but, just as in other areas of the county, there is a very small minority of children who are persistently absent from school. Through the Supporting Troubled Families Programme, this multi-agency initiative is about focusing on that minority and working together with their parents to find out the underlying reasons for frequent absence and providing appropriate support to ensure children go to school each day as they should do.

"Regular school attendance is crucial to helping ensure a child has the best possible start in life. Children who miss school frequently for reasons other than serious illness are at greater risk of falling behind with their studies and not achieving as well in their exams as their peers. This in turn can have a negative impact on their future and restrict the range of choices open to them for further education, training and employment."

Over one week, at the request of the schools, the organisations involved will visit the home of a child who has not turned up for school and whose absence has not been reported by their parent or carer. The home visits will help to establish any underlying reasons why a child may be consistently absent from school and identify professional support for the child and its family, as appropriate, that could help to ensure significant improvement in the child's attendance at school.

Alongside this, checks will be made around shopping centres, parks and other recreational areas where young people may congregate when they are truant. Where a pupil is caught being truant, their details will be taken and a letter will be sent to the family home explaining the legal implications.

The Supporting (Troubled) Families programme is a unique opportunity to transform the lives of families and communities across Hampshire, through a more targeted and co-ordinated multi-agency approach, at a family level. The programme has a clear emphasis on early help and preventative work, enabling families to break cycles of being out of work, poverty and social exclusion. It also seeks to improve the effectiveness of the proportion of public money that is spent on high-need families. Over time, this approach will help to improve the lives of families, have a positive impact on the communities in which they reside and reduce the costs on the public purse.

Measures of success for these families range from: parents or older siblings being helped back into training, education or sustainable employment; significant improvements in children's school attendance; and reductions in youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

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