A TEAM has been tackling truancy in Basingstoke this week by stepping up support and intervention.

As part of the Supporting (Troubled) Families initiative, Hampshire County Council and partners, including schools, community safety teams and the police, have been working together to combat truancy in the borough.

At the request of schools, the partners will visit homes of children who have not turned up for school and whose absence has not been reported by their parent or carer.

This helps establish any underlying reasons why a child may be consistently absent from school, and identify professional support for the child and family.

Checks are also being made in shopping centres, parks and other recreational areas where young people may congregate when they are truant.

When a pupil is caught, their details are taken and a letter is sent to their family explaining the legal implication.

Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council's executive lead member for children's services, said: "In line with the rest of the county, Basingstoke and Deane have good school attendance rates compared to national averages but, just as in other areas of the county, there is a very small minority of children who are persistently absent from school.

“Through the Supporting (Troubled) Families Programme, this multi-agency initiative is about focusing on that minority and working together with their parents to find out the underlying reasons for frequent absence and providing appropriate support to ensure children go to school each day as they should do.

"Regular school attendance is crucial to helping ensure a child has the best possible start in life. Children who miss school frequently for reasons other than serious illness are at greater risk of falling behind with their studies and not achieving as well in their exams as their peers. This in turn can have a negative impact on their future and restrict the range of choices open to them for further education, training and employment."