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Education Act 1996

Volume 448: debated on Monday 3 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the operation of section (a) 444 and (b) 509 of the Education Act 1996; what recent representations he has received about the operation of this Act; and whether he has plans to amend this Act. (80417)

These sections of the Education Act 1996 deal with school attendance and school transport. We believe that parents must take responsibility for their children’s attendance at school. Where children do not attend school regularly, a prosecution or a penalty notice under section 444 may be needed if parents are not doing their best to ensure that their child attends school.

The Department receives representations from a range of sources, including pupils, parents, local authorities and MPs about the operation of sections 444 and 509. There is widespread agreement that the transport provisions are out of date.

The Education and Inspections Bill includes amendments to sections 444 and 509 of the Education Act 1996. These will confirm that it is for a parent to prove that they have a good reason for failing to ensure their child attends school. The Bill also extends the right to free transport for low-income groups, and clarifies local authority duties relating to school transport.