More than 40 Somerset school students taking time out of class for Christmas shopping got more than they bargained for when education attendance officers stopped them.
The officers from Somerset County Council, helped by Avon and Somerset Police, spoke to 88 children they found in high streets and malls two weeks before Christmas – most of them with their parents. Of these, 41 did not have a valid reason to be away from school.
Parents of the children found out of school without a valid reason can face court action, a penalty of £60 or £120, or close monitoring of their child’s attendance.
Cabinet Member Frances Nicholson said: “The council will make every effort to work with the small number of families with children not turning up for school to turn this round. However, where things don’t improve, we will take further action.
“As I have said in the past, if our children are to get the education and qualifications they need to compete in the job market or go on to higher education, they need to turn up for school.”
Of those with valid reasons for absence; some had authorised absence for medical appointments, 15 claimed to be home educated, some were waiting for admission to a school or appealing against an admission refusal. There were also some children on authorised holidays.