Just six pupils were found truanting from school as part of a co-ordinated county-wide sweep carried out in the past week by SCC and Suffolk Police. The operation demonstrated a significant drop in offenders when compared with a sweep which took place last year whereby 43 individuals were caught truanting in Ipswich alone.

The truancy sweep this week took place in Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Out of the 30 youngsters stopped, 24 had permission to be out of school. Only six were unauthorised absences.

SCC’s education welfare officers joined Suffolk Police in patrolling the towns. All parents and carers who were stopped were asked for details of the child’s reason for being out of school. Schools were then contacted to confirm the reason, and where the reason was not valid a fixed penalty was issued.

This is part of a tougher stance that SCC is taking on unauthorised absences. There is a strong and direct correlation between poor attendance and poorer academic achievement. Figures from the Department for Education show that 88% of children who regularly miss days in school, fail to gain 5 good GCSEs – and 45% fail to get any at all.

The decline in attainment levels is significant  even when there has been a seemingly small slip in attendance. The new protocol in place from September 2014 allows SCC to issue each parent or carer with a £60 penalty notice fine for each child who has an unauthorised absence.