Businesses in Ryde are working with Isle of Wight Council and Hampshire Constabulary to crack down on students playing truant from school. The town is following in the footsteps of Newport by becoming part of the Truancy Watch Scheme.
Those shops or food outlets who are part of the scheme will not serve pupils during school days between 9am and 3pm unless they are accompanied by an adult and have a good reason or a valid absence slip from their school. Each business taking part will display an A5 poster in their windows showing they are part of the Truancy Watch initiative.
Regular truancy sweeps will also be held in the town as well as across the Island. Isle of Wight Council Education Welfare Officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) from the Ryde Safer Neighbourhoods Policing Team will stop and question any young person they suspect may be playing truant and ask them why they are in the town. Anyone found to be out of school without permission may be returned to the school. The Truancy Watch Scheme aims to encourage young people to maximise the benefits of learning whilst also raising awareness of the seriousness of truancy.
Newport became the first town to launch the Truancy Watch scheme in November 2006 and it is proving to be successful. Figures show it has helped cut the number of students playing truant by over 50% in the town. Prior to its launch, 33 students were caught playing truant in Newport during the 05/06 school year. Following the launch, 15 students were found to be skipping lessons in the 06/07 school year which shows the scheme is having an effect on reducing truancy numbers.
Cllr Alan Wells is Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet member for Children & Young People and said “After the successful launch of Truancy Watch in Newport, it was only a matter of time before other areas joined the scheme. This is a great example of the council, police and local businesses working together to reduce the number of young people skipping school. Anti-truancy patrols are regularly held across the Isle of Wight and parents will be informed if their child is caught and they could ultimately face heavy fines or even a jail term should their children regularly play truant. We welcome any scheme that aims to crack down on truants.”
The campaign has the backing of the police, with Safer Neighborhood Teams taking an active role in enforcing the truancy free zone. Safer Neighborhoods Inspector Paul Savill said “This is an excellent example of partnership working and we are pleased to support this scheme. There is a clear aim to safeguard young people and parents should be reassured that they are safe in school instead of potentially getting into trouble on the streets.”