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Parents in East Sussex are being urged to be ‘pushy’ and ensure their child gets to school, as a new campaign launches aimed at driving up attendance rates.—East Sussex County Council,  4 September 2019

As schools across the county prepare to reopen (Thursday 5 September) after the summer holidays, East Sussex County Council has launched its ‘Be a pushy parent’ campaign.

Targeting parents through social media and in radio and bus advertisements, it comes hot on the heels of the hard-hitting ‘Get a grip’ campaign which began two years ago.

Since the final phase of that campaign ended in December, 168 families in the county have been prosecuted for their child’s non-attendance, and ordered to pay almost £30,000 in fines.

Stuart Gallimore, county council director of children’s services, said: “While the ‘Get a Grip’ campaign was controversial in some quarters, it undoubtedly raised awareness of the issue of school attendance.

“Since it launched, we’ve seen significant improvements at some schools, and an improved picture at primary schools generally, but this is a long-standing issue which can’t be addressed overnight.

“Although the new campaign takes a fresh approach, the underlying message remains that absence from school can adversely affect a child’s education and harm their long-term career prospects.

“While the vast majority of parents ensure their child goes to school regularly, unauthorised absence rates are still too high and we won’t hesitate to take action to improve the situation and to give children in East Sussex the best possible chance in life.”

Research shows attendance levels of less than 95 per cent – equating to nine days absence during the school year – have a marked detrimental effect on children’s performance.

Term-time absence must be approved by the head teacher. Any parent taking their child out of school without permission may receive a £120 penalty notice per parent per child and could face court action if they fail to pay.