Skiving, skipping school, bunking off, cutting class, whatever you want to call it, truancy is a serious problem both for the person who does it and those around them.
Truancy is when a person frequently and purposefully doesn’t go to school. It can also mean being absent during the day, if you don’t attend certain lessons.
There are lots of different reasons why someone might not want to go to school and it is important that they address these. If you are a young carer, feel obliged to help your family at home, or are experiencing problems at school, then there are lots of people you can talk to in order to get help.
Missing school has long term and short term effects
One of the short term effects of truancy is that you will find it hard to catch up on the work that you have missed. Your teacher may not always have time to explain it to you because it will hold up the whole class, so you’ll end up having to make up the work in your own time.
You may also find that if you spend a lot of time out of school you won’t make such strong friendships with the other people in your classes. You also won’t have the day to day interaction with other people that can improve your confidence and social skills.
The amount of school time you are missing may be more significant than you realise. If you miss two weeks of term time every year, by the time you come to take your GCSEs you will have missed the equivalent of an entire school year.
In the long term, people who miss a lot of school do not learn good working practice and so are less likely to gain qualifications and graduate from school. This has the knock-on effect that they find it harder to get jobs or enter Higher Education.
Some research also indicates that people who truant are more likely to become homeless as adults.
Since 1998 the police have had the power to remove truanting young people from public spaces and take them back to their school or another education institution.
According to the Fast Track to Attendance Scheme, if you are found to consistently miss school then your parents or carers maybe forced to pay a fine or penalty notice of up to £100. Your parents or carers may then decide to make you pay towards this. Alternatively they could draw up a Parenting Contract with the school and a welfare education officer to improve your school attendance over 12 weeks.
In the case of serious, serial truanting, parents or carers can be taken to court. In the worst case scenario they can be given a £2,500 fine or a three-month prison sentence.
If there is a genuine reason for you to be missing school then the best thing for you to do is to talk about this before your truancy becomes a serious problem.
Who can help?
For more information on support for young carers, check out the Princess Royal Trust for Carers website at: www.carers.org.
To find out about the legal implications of truancy and practical advice on how you and your parents can work together, see: www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Schoolslearninganddevelopment/YourChildsWelfareAtSchool/.
For more information on how truancy may affect you, see the Every Child Mattters website.