Schools 'must address causes of truancy' to help troubled families

By Gabriella Jozwiak, Wednesday 21 November 2012

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The troubled families programme will be unsuccessful if professionals fail to address the underlying causes of truancy in schools, such as chronic child health conditions, a charity has warned.

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Family Action found truancy affected more than a quarter of families it supports with multiple needs. Image: Alex Deverill

According to an analysis of the charity Family Action's 69 local services, more than a quarter of "troubled families" experienced problems with truancy or exclusion from school.

A report by the charity is now calling on government to adopt a joined-up approach to tackling issues that children have at school, which it says are often the result of wider family problems, including an inability for parents to manage chronic child health conditions such as diabetes.

“A diagnosis of diabetes in teenagers can have a huge impact on their wellbeing and behaviour and needs to be managed by their family,” the report says. “Some families do not have the necessary resilience and resources to respond and need extra support.”

Helen Dent, chief executive of Family Action, said joint working between schools, health and social care is vital if the government is to achieve its “headline goals” of reducing truancy and exclusion as part of the troubled families programme.

“Our research shows that more work needs to be done by statutory bodies to put chronic illness on the agenda of schools and that most disadvantaged families need joined-up early support to help reduce the risk of children missing out on school,” she said.

The charity added that the pupil premium and troubled families programme funding should be joined up so that it is used effectively.  

The troubled families programme aims to transform the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families by 2015.

Local councils are able to claim up to £4,000 in government money for each family they work with, if they are successful in reducing youth crime, truancy and antisocial behaviour, or help an adult in the family move off benefits and into work.

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