1.In the 2018/19 academic year, how many families received a letter from a school in respect of their child’s attendance, including a warning that if attendance did not improve they may be at risk of prosecution?
We do not hold this information. Devon County Council as the Local Education Authority (LEA) recommend to all schools that they should warn parents but no records are kept centrally, please contact schools directly using the information on the link provided.
2. In the 2018/19 academic year, how many families were referred to Education Welfare (or an equivalent service) in respect of a child’s school attendance?
We do not hold this information. We can confirm that 1,109 cases were opened between September 2018 and July 2019, by EWS for the primary reason of poor school attendance.
3. In the 2018/19 academic year, how many families were prosecuted in respect of a child’s school attendance?
We do not hold this information, 332 individuals were prosecuted but we cannot confirm family membership.
4. How many of the prosecutions at (3) resulted in (a) parents being fined, (b) a non-custodial sentence, (c) a custodial sentence, (d) no action being taken against the parents?
5. Does the Council collate any statistics in respect of whether:
a) the children involved in the above situations have an EHC Plan, are the subject of a current or previous request for an EHC Needs Assessment, or are known to CAMHS or equivalent?
To identify, locate and compile information we would have to produce a list of families prosecuted, which we estimate would be in triple figures, then each case would need to be manually reviewed to see if the pupil was subject to an EHCP, even if each one only took five minutes the total time required would be in excess of the 18 hours allowed under the Freedom of information Act 2000 Section 12 – Cost of compliance.
b) the parents involved in the above situations have any disability?
If so, please provide a copy of these statistics in respect of the 2018/19 academic year. If not, please explain whether the Council has any policy to ensure its actions in respect of school attendance do not discriminate against families where there is a disability or additional needs and please provide a copy of any such policy, guidelines or similar.
We may hold this information but not with pupil attendance and SEN data, which would mean a manual exercise to cross check relevant families with other systems such as the Blue Badge register, and social care records. This would add to the total time required to compile the information for Q 5a) and would be in excess of the 18 hours allowed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Section 12 – Cost of Compliance.
We do not hold a formal written policy or guideline which states that actions in relation to school attendance do not discriminate against families where there is a disability or Sen but can confirm that support is always offered to a family before we move towards formal prosecutions. There is also an expectation that the Education Welfare Service uses options such as Early Help and/or Education Supervision rather than prosecution and like all large organisations, we have a number of legal duties. These relate to many areas of our work, including and not least to Equality and Diversity, policy linked to below. We also develop our own policies, to help managers and staff deliver services that are not only lawful, but that also try to give each customer a service best suited to their needs. We acknowledge and welcome our legal duties and use legislation, national guidance and our own policies as a framework for improvement. These include a legal duty in accordance with Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 to ensure that all children receive their statutory right to an education, regardless of family circumstances.