One major issue that schools are currently facing and seeing little or no improvement with is effectively dealing with student absenteeism and truancy. My school, SMK S.T Xaviers is no exceptional school from this problem. Truancy according to Oxford Advance Learners’ Dictionary is ‘the practice of staying away from school without permission’. Teachers have been trying very hard to motivate their pupils to come to school every day to study and enjoy coming to school even to the extent of caning those who play truant every now and then. They also explain and remind them that truancy may lead to bullies, snatch thieves, robbery, cigarettes, drugs, gangsterism and crime but it has fallen into deaf ears. I realize that the issue cannot be handled and solved therefore I agree that students in school like to play truant in school.
Truant cases has been for many years but recently it has become more serious as the number of cases rises sharply either those who truant alternately or continuously. Class teachers play a very important role in this case. They take attendance of pupils every day in and out of the school ‘without fail’. The problem is, they fail to take attendance every day. The reasons are, teachers go out for courses and nobody to take over the class attendance.
see more:essay about my school
Secondly, there are a few teachers who take pupils attendance lightly, which means the attendances are not taken every day. Teachers who take attendance every day but do not bother about pupils who are absent, whilst no follow-up with their parents or care-taker on informing them about their children’s absents. When the class teacher fail to take actions, the discipline master in this school could not perform my duty perfectly in the school. Reminders have been given every now and then but it has fallen on deaf ears.
The second party that plays the ultimate role is the family. The family factor in my school include lack of guidance or parental supervision, domestic violence, poverty, and more. Parentally condoned absence is especially influential, as it reinforces the lack of consequences for irresponsible and unwanted behavior on the part of the child. Parental
attitudes to education are crucial to schools success in keeping children in school; often times a parent’s condonation of truancy is construed as the parent’s not valuing education. It is worth noting that many parents indiscriminately sanction an absence by sending a note or making a call. Schools should be able to enlist the support of parents when it comes to tackling truancy. When a parent doesn’t value education, wants their child to help them out at home or believes their child has good reasons for staying away, the task is altogether more challenging.
One of the common causes of truancy and disruptive behavior in children is the influence of friends and peers. Many times these peers are seen encouraging truancy as a status-seeking activity or as a way of joining in or blending in. The child’s natural instinct to want to be a part of a larger crowd or group dynamic will take over, even if they are taught better habits. Often times this same dynamic is prevalent in the face of any resistance the child may put forth, prompting teasing or goading the child into truanting.
Closely related to the issue of a child’s relationship with school is the matter of bullying. Bullying is a prime component in the making of an unsafe school environment; if a child does not feel safe at school, or on the way to school, they are much more likely to become truant. Bullying occurs for many reasons and it goes beyond the one isolated instance of harassment either because of teachers’ inability to control, or problems arising from the child’s own personality or learning abilities. A parent might say they’re keeping their child off school because they’re being bullied. The school might call it truancy.
To curb truancy, initiatives must be taken. Prevention is the key. Early intervention can tackle the problem. Students who often skip classes should be given counseling. Parents should check with teachers and school authorities periodically to monitor students’ attendance. Police patrols will also deter repeat offenders.
"I had a Welsh speaking test. I'd had to memorise a paragraph and speak in front of the whole class. I just couldn't do it," says 13-year-old Hayley from Cardiff. "I pretended to be ill." But Hayley did not enjoy her day off. "I watched TV all day – it was boring. I wished I had gone to school."
Hayley's story is not unusual. According to the latest government figures, pupil absences are rising, despite schools taking a hard line on truancy.
Philippa James, a PhD researcher at Cardiff University's school of social sciences, thinks she knows why: "The more schools improve methods of detection, the more children work out better methods of deception."
James has researched student truancy for several years and is about to publish a year-long study of 60 teenagers, aged 13 and 14, including Hayley, in which she checked to see whether the teenagers were truanting, for how long, and why. James says her findings reveal many of the assumptions that underpin government policy on school absenteeism are false.
The scale of the problem is significant. Absence and truancy rates are calculated by the number of half-days of school missed. In the autumn term of 2008 and the spring term of this year, pupils in state primary and secondary schools missed 1.03% of possible half-days without permission, figures released last month from the Department for Children, Schools and Families show. This compares with 0.97% of half-days missed for the same period the year before.
But James believes her study, though on a much smaller scale, proves such figures are "relatively meaningless".
"The statistics are unhelpful," she says. "Students are very good at 'hidden' absences – things like hiding in the toilets, or leaving a lesson after being marked present. Those won't be included in the figures. It's more important to look at the reasons for truanting."
More radically, her research shows very little evidence of a correlation between truancy and socio-economic background, or criminal activity. "The main social concern about absences from school is about what young people are doing when not in lessons. My findings suggest it's not fair to say that truancy causes crime," she says.
"Over the year, I noted a very low level of crime – it was mainly smoking. So many people truant that some will always engage in crime, but they do so outside of school time too – the act of truancy doesn't cause it."
James challenges the idea that truants are non-conformist pupils, or less academically able. The teenagers in her study were from three Cardiff comprehensives with different socio-economic catchments. "Skipping school was a common coping strategy, evident in each school," she says. "Mostly it was occasional, but widespread. It certainly wasn't carried out only by pupils in lower socio-economic groups."
Trying to gauge the reasons for bunking off was not always easy. James mainly contacted her subjects via instant messenger, which allowed her "almost daily contact". It also enabled her to separate herself from teachers and other figures of authority. Through online conversations and face-to-face interviews, she discovered that most truancy was "a response to factors within the school". Students complained of supply teachers who failed to engage them, and of "boring" lessons.
"It wasn't about an outright resistance to school," James says. "Many truants really enjoy school and believe in education, but opted out when aspects of it were ineffective. In recent years, pupils have been positioned as 'consumers' of education – their truancy reflects this mentality."
The current government policy of ramping up truancy-monitoring and imposing more serious punishments has worsened absenteeism, James believes. Teenagers told her it was now harder to skip a single lesson, so they'd miss whole days to avoid being caught. She says the views of students like Adam, who believes that "mitching" (bunking lessons) has little impact on his schooling, were common. "I only mitch for a lesson, or a couple of days. It doesn't affect my education," he told James.
The more a popular truancy spot is monitored, the more students develop strategies to avoid detection. Girls are better at avoiding being caught than boys, James says. Some girls gave the school their mobile number instead of their parent's number so they could intervene if the school called.
By contrast, James found boys' repertoire of deceptive strategies more limited. They mainly pretended to be ill. Students said they put their heads on radiators to fake sickness.
Last week, it was revealed that some schools in Liverpool use sweets and iPods to encourage truants to stay in class. But, James says, that won't work in the long-term. "Once the novelty wears off, the underlying problem – an unfulfilling lesson or problem with a teacher – will remain."
Her study concludes that schools "need to address the questionof why pupils want to leave in the first place".
"Pupils need help from the start so they have the tools to speak out about inadequacies and negotiate a way of changing them," she says. "It's a two-way process – schools must be responsive. We need to abandon the obsession with statistics and look at the reasons for truancy, so that instead of walking away from school students have the skills – and options – to talk through problems and make a change."