Every year hundreds of thousands of UK students play truant. The government has recently spent over £1 billion trying to tackle the issue but little has changed.
Although it is only less than 5% of students who play truant routinely, obviously this phenomenon is affecting schools across the UK.
As a parent, there is much you can towards dealing with teenage truancy.
Get to Know the Issue
Many parents don’t realise it, but truancy affects every single student and teacher in UK schools today.
When even one student is truant the entire class suffers as a result. Precious time is wasted disciplining students; whole classes are put behind schedule in order to help others catch up and the disruption of pupil’s constantly disappearing means that everyone loses out.
Though it may seem that truancy can be dealt with by simply getting students back into the classroom this may prove only minimally effective.
In actual fact students play truant from school due to a variety of underlying issues and only when these are solved will all students once again feel comfortable in the classroom.
Some of the reasons that students engage in truancy include:
- Bullying at school.
- An inability to do course work, or to ask for help.
- An uneasy relationship with teachers or administrators.
- Peer pressure.
- Exclusions that leave them with little interest in attending school.
- Abuse at home that they fear will become obvious at school.
Get to Know Your Teen
Parents often think that they know their teens, but without making it a priority there are many things that parents will be left out of.
If you as a parent want to deal with teenage truancy, communicate your views to your child. Work with your teen by:
- Telling him/her your views on truancy.
- Outlining the punishments you will enforce if (s) he engages in truancy.
- Asking your teen his/her thoughts on truancy.
- Discussing reasons your teen may/has played truant.
- Brainstorming ways to solve the issues your teen is running from at school.
- Requesting meetings with teachers, if needed.
- Dropping your child at school in the morning and watching him/her enter the building.
Get to Know Your Teen’s School
Many parents feel unable to deal with their teen’s truancy without the help of their teen’s school.
Get to know the teachers and administrators in your teen’s life, and offer your time and energy to tackle truancy on a school-wide level.
Meet with school administrators and request that they:
- Notify parents every day that their child is absent or excluded.
- Consider electronic registration systems if truancy is a school-wide problem.
- Implement truancy and exclusion policies so that discipline can be standardised.
- Send out copies of all policies relating to truancy and discipline to parents.
- Implement a “Late Gate” policy whereby late students are stopped, their names taken, and this information communicated to parents.
- Work with parent groups to consider truancy patrols in surrounding areas.
Dealing with teenage truancy is not fun for parents, teachers or school administrators but it is a necessary part of modern education.
Unchecked truancy often results in legal entanglements for the student, but it can also affect parents as well.
Avoid these unnecessary and unpleasant situations by getting to know the issue, getting to know your teen and getting to know your teen’s school in order to more effectively fight teen truancy.