Plaid Cymru proposes a different approach
The Party of Wales Shadow Education Minister Simon Thomas has used Assembly procedures to call in the Welsh Government’s policy to penalise parents of pupils who play truant for further scrutiny. The Mid and West Wales AM has said that his party has always opposed the “regressive” policy which seeks to punish people who need support.
Mr Thomas said that efforts would be better spent on giving teachers the support they need such as training on assessing pupils’ performance, or intervention where pupils need extra support.
The Party of Wales Shadow Education Minister Simon Thomas said:
“We know that in areas of deprivation there is much more absenteeism and this is something that we must tackle. The Party of Wales wants to break the link between deprivation and low attainment in school, but for this to happen we need to address this issue directly.
“Plaid Cymru is clear that punishing parents is not the way. Truant children often come from poorer backgrounds, and fining these parents would just be a penalty on vulnerable people.
“Instead, the government should be looking at ways of tackling truancy by supporting people. Approaches such as the use of home-school liaison officers and improved communication between schools and families can be very effective in raising attendance levels.
“We need to enable teachers to assess pupils’ performance and access extra support when its needed. One important aspect the Welsh Government should review is the literacy levels of pupils who are not attending classes.
“Truancy is often a symptom of wider problems, so it’s cynical and too simplistic to think that it can be tackled through financial penalties. A Plaid Cymru government would seek to adopt an inclusive and supportive approach to breaking the poverty/attainment link once and for all.
“Though we lost the vote on the principle of fining parents narrowly, I want to hear from the Minister how he will ensure this system will not be misused to artificially boost banding (league tables) and how the most vulnerable families will be supported, not penalised.”