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Truancy explained

I am writing to respond to your article on truancy (“Truancy rates out’, Herne Bay Times, March 4). I think you have misrepresented the issues in your report substantially for all schools. Firstly, unauthorised absence is not truancy, it is any absence that each school deems to be unauthorised. Therefore it represents a decision made by each school about the status of an absence. Clearly these figures represent the decisions and interpretations made by each school.

Here at Chaucer, we have a policy decision, supported and backed by our governing body, not to authorise the absence of a child who is away from school while taking a family holiday in term time. This is a decision we have not taken lightly because we know that a two-week holiday in term time is much cheaper than one taken in the summer. Yet we also know that a two-week holiday represents five per cent annual absence for each child so we have a dilemma. Do we worry about league tables or do the right thing? Every school on your published list expends a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on chasing up absence and making decisions that go towards ensuring that we educate all our youngsters to the highest standards possible. Our examination results, and indeed Canterbury schools’ examination results, are much better than national averages.

Simon Murphy
principal, Chaucer Technology School

Herne Bay Times, March 18th 2010