Govt unveils £11m e-truancy fund for schools

Little Brother gives rascals an education

The Department for Education and Skills has unveiled a £11.25 million fund for schools to purchase hi-tech solutions for the age-old problem of truancy.

Secretary of State Estelle Morris will write to all Local Education Authorities to explain the scheme and ask them to encourage schools to apply for the funds. Schools with high rates of truancy will be targeted.

The Department of Education also plans to recommend a variety of systems designed to tackle truancy, ranging from swipe-cards to handheld registration pads. The electronic registration systems will be introduced into selected secondary schools over two years starting from April 2002.

Among the benefits of such technology, the government says, are:

  • A reduction in unauthorised absence levels by 10 per cent within two years, according to an independent evaluation
  • Freeing schools from the time-consuming manual recording of attendance twice a day
  • A reduction in the amount of time spent by teachers and administrative staff on contacting parents about unexplained absences
  • Schools can use lesson-by-lesson registration where
    post-registration truancy is an issue
  • More accurate and speedy information is generated so that schools and Education Welfare Services are able to track absence and consider wider measures to tackle truancy.

Morris said: Not only does the use of modern technology in monitoring absence act preventatively to reduce the number of lost days, but it also frees teachers from the burden of time wasted on checking up with parents about a child's attendance. Learning mentors and other administrative staff are also increasingly supporting teachers in this role." ®