Truancy operations net pupils as young as five

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CHILDREN as young as five have been spoken to by education welfare officers after being caught in a series of police-accompanied truancy sweeps in the East Riding.

A total of 56 children aged between five and 16 were identified during the four-day operation in Beverley, Goole, Bridlington and Driffield last week.

All were questioned about their absence and some were from schools outside the authority, which will be notified. A small number had legitimate reasons for their absence.

East Riding Council, which used to have the worst rates in the country for term-time holidays, said attendance was continuing to improve, although it was concerned about the numbers of pupils found on the streets.

A total of 52,551 days were lost to term-time holidays in the academic year 2007/08, which fell by 38 per cent to 19,934 in 2011/12.

Coun Julie Abraham, portfolio holder for children, young people and local authority schools, said: “The improved attendance figures are good news for our children and young people as they can only benefit from a good education if they are in school.

“It is still concerning though, that some children are missing many days of their schooling and do not even attempt to hide their absence from the authorities.

“The message about the importance of a good education needs to be constantly reinforced and I give my full support to the efforts of the education welfare service and Humberside Police in tracking down and following up on those pupils not in school.”

Mike Furbank, head of achievement and inclusion at the council, added: “There is a direct correlation between educational outcomes and the number of days spent in school. Children need to be in school to learn and we will work vigorously to make this happen.”