Government policies

Tackling truancy and exclusion in schools

Starting dates

1998: Crime an Disorder Act new powers to police

1999: LEAs set new targets for schools

2002: National truancy sweeps begun

2005: Education Regulations

Key department Department for Education and Home Office
Key delivery agency Schools, LEAs and Police


1. By 2002, to reduce the number of exclusions by a third from their 1997/98 level.

2. By 2002, to reduce time lost through truancy by a third.

3. By 2008, to reduce school absence by 8% compared to 2003.

The National Behaviour and Attendance Strategy aims include: to reduce permanent and fixed term exclusions and to ensure high quality provision for excluded pupils.  Budget of 470 million for 2003-2006.

The Crime and Disorder Act allows police to pick up, but not arrest, children registered at a school but playing truant.

By September 2002, schools most affected by unaccounted absenteeism had to produce a strategy with the LEA to reduce absence levels.

National truancy sweeps occur twice a year and are undertaken jointly by police and education welfare officers.  The Department for Education publish data from these.  Local authorities also often undertake their own truancy sweeps independently.

The 2005 Education (School Attendance Targets) Regulations 2005 require all schools to set absence targets and submit them to their local authority.