Truant texting gets government backing

The government is giving a helping hand to schools with a bad truancy problem. It plans to give them cash to implement a system that will text, e-mail or call parents automatically if their child doesn’t turn up.

Truant texting gets government backing

Around 400 of the worst affected will be given funding for the new text alert system, which links into class registers to monitor unauthorised absences and reacts accordingly.

The technology, which is capable of making contact with parents within minutes of identifying an absence, has already proved popular in a number of other schools, according to the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

The schools are also able to text the pupils involved to warn them that their absence has been noted, if they wish to do so.

Today’s announcement comes as the DfES published new data on secondary school pupils’ attendance to help institutions, local authorities and the department to target persistent absence more effectively.

‘Working with schools which we know had significant numbers of such pupils has helped them achieve spectacular results in improving attendance records: for example, 27 per cent fewer truants in the 198 schools we supported last year, and this year 20 per cent fewer persistent absentees compared to last spring,’ said Minister for Schools, Jim Knight.

‘Combined with our efforts to engage young people through personalised learning to ensure that every young person has an education tailored to their needs, this is clearly the right long term approach to improving attendance,’ he added.

‘Parents have a critical role to play in this process though. We know from truancy sweeps that around half of all children caught out of school with no good reason are found with an adult. That’s why we have given schools and local authorities the powers they need to make sure parents take responsibility for their child’s attendance. We want parents working with schools, not against them.’

This is not the first instance of schools using text messaging to keep in touch with parents.

Last month, our sister site IT PRO revealed that many institutions made use of texts or automated voice calls to alert thousands of parents that their schools were closed due to the snow.

One of the systems used, Call Parents, was responsible for sending more than 60,000 texts and automated calls to parents spanning more than 700 schools due to the adverse weather conditions.

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