Don’t miss the bus, school attendance campaign warns

THE latest phase of a hard-hitting campaign aimed at driving up school attendance rates in East Sussex has been launched.

The ‘Get A Grip’ campaign uses radio and bus shelter advertising and social media to highlight the detrimental impact of any absence from school on children’s education.

The third phase of the East Sussex County Council campaign is being promoted using the slogans ‘Missed the bus’, ‘It’s my birthday’ and ‘Didn’t set alarm’.

Its launch comes as new figures show 23 parents were prosecuted in March for failing to secure regular attendance for their child, while one child was given a court order requiring them to improve their attendance.

Cllr Bob Standley, county council lead member for education and inclusion, said: “This campaign has been successful in raising awareness of the impact even a day’s absence can have on children’s education.

“The latest phase of the campaign references some of the common excuses used for non-attendance and lateness and highlights the fact that there’s simply no excuse for taking your child out of school without a valid reason.

“The majority of parents do ensure their children attend school regularly, but for too long now, our attendance rates in East Sussex have lagged behind other areas and this is not acceptable.

“As the latest prosecutions show, we’ll do whatever it takes to improve the situation and to give our young people the best possible chance of success in their future educational and professional careers.”

In March, 23 parents were brought before the courts and ordered to pay a total of £2,020 in fines and £2,034.16 in court costs.

One parent, from Hastings, was handed a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay court costs of £1,431 and a £75 victim surcharge.

Meanwhile, a child who failed to attend regularly despite the best efforts of their parents was given a one-year education supervision order, requiring them to work with the county council to improve their attendance.

Term-time absence must be approved by the head teacher. Any parent taking their child out of school without permission may receive a £60 penalty notice per parent per child, or court action if they fail to pay.