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NAHT comments on attendance of pupils in maintained schools across Wales

PARENTS could again face fines if their children do not go to school in a bid to tackle school absences.

Ministers had discouraged councils from issuing fixed penalty notices for truancy as Covid hit education.

But amid worries about continued absenteeism councils will be asked to go back to pre-pandemic guidance.

Education Minister Jeremy Miles said he was “very concerned” some year groups are more likely than others not to be in school.

But he emphasised fines should be a “last-resort” and would only be used in the most extreme cases.

Headteachers’ union NAHT said there remains a “great deal of anxiety” among parents and pupils, while Plaid Cymru said fining parents is “absolutely unjust” during the cost of living crisis.

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Laura Doel, Director of NAHT Cymru said: “Persistent absenteeism is a huge concern for our members but there are a variety of reasons why attendance figures are below average.

“It is naive to think that fining those with continued absence is the solution in every case when it is our experience that the reasons behind learners being off school are usually very complex.

“We also cannot forget the impact the pandemic has had and, in some cases, continues to have. Bereavement, anxiety, the pressure of exams and a host of other factors are contributing to this problem and therefore schools need support from those trained individuals who can help those children, young people and their families.

“We know the best place for our learners is back in school, school leaders focus is on supporting them to do just that but it cannot be left to schools to address this problem alone.”

Link to the absence data: https://gov.wales/attendance-pupils-maintained-schools-6-september-2021-27-may-2022