Opinion Former Article

NUT: Cutting family budgets will not improve truancy

Concerns have been raised that the Welsh Government’s plans to fine parents over their children’s truancy could lead to a breakdown of community–school relationships and create new and damaging problems for the most vulnerable families in Wales.

NUT Cymru, the largest union for teachers in Wales, says that the decision to follow a Westminster Government approach will not tackle the core issues of absenteeism; more worryingly, in the long term it threatens to create a host of new problems in our communities.

The NUT has responded strongly to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the issue and has urged it not to press ahead with the plans.

NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said:

“No one doubts the seriousness of hard core truancy.  It impacts on the individuals who fall behind their classmates, and on schools who are punished by the way that absenteeism impacts on their school bandings.  This is clearly an issue that does need to be tackled, but simply fining parents is not the way to do that.  Indeed, far from improving the situation, which will lead to a breakdown in the relationship between schools and their communities and cause even greater problems for families.

“We simply do not accept that punishment rather than support is the answer.  What schools and parents need is properly resourced truancy services that make parents part of the solution.  The culture of blame will only create even greater problems for those parents who are struggling already in many cases to find the money for food and heating.

“Truancy and poverty are linked. Financially punishing parents will, in all likelihood, hit the most vulnerable people and those families closest to the poverty line. This is a policy which will cause more harm than good and goes against the very principles of community support which drive Welsh society.

“The Welsh Government is right to prioritise truancy. This is a very serious issue that impacts on the life chances of individuals and the overall ability of schools to ensure high standards. However, supporting parents rather than attacking them has to be the long term approach if we are to tackle the fundamental causes of truancy.”

Contact: Owen Hathway, NUT Cymru, Ty Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff  CF24 5PJ.
Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07921 146 442
e-mail: cymru.wales@nut.org.uk

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