New attendance push as East Sussex parents are fined £30,000

'Be a pushy parent' East Sussex County Council new campaign to improve school attendance
'Be a pushy parent' East Sussex County Council new campaign to improve school attendance

A new campaign is urging parents to be ‘pushy’ to ensure their child goes to school to drive up East Sussex attendance rates.

Targeting parents through social media and in radio and bus advertisements, it comes after the ‘get a grip’ campaign which East Sussex County Council launched 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.

The get a grip campaign prompted a massive backlash, with more than 11,000 people signing a petition calling for a stop to what was described as ‘condescending and insulting’ messaging.

Stuart Gallimore, director of children’s services at East Sussex County Council, 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.”

Any parent taking their child out of school without permission may receive a £120 fine per parent per child and could face court action if they fail to pay.