Truancy fines 'punitive': Murtoa principal

MURTOA College principal Joanna Day has questioned a State Government move to penalise parents who fail to send their children to school.

She does not believe fining parents will solve any truancy problems.

"It's a punitive measure," she said.

"I think schools need to educate parents and students about attendance."

Dr Day said she believed it would be some time before educators were comfortable with fining parents.

"Student non-attendance is usually quite a complicated issue, for which there is no easy solution," she said.

Murtoa mother Merrilyn Koch said it was regrettable the government felt parents had to be fined to take school attendance seriously, but she believed it could be a sign of the times.

"If all other avenues of appeal have failed and it's the only way people are going to pay attention and do the right thing, maybe that's the way it has to be," she said. 

"In the past, traditional values would have prevented this sort of thing from being necessary. Education is very important, and parents have a duty of care to ensure their child is receiving the best education they can provide."

Truancy infringement notices are among measures in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's new student attendance guidelines, which will come into effect on March 1.

Parents can be fined if their child misses five days of school without an acceptable reason.

Dimboola Memorial Secondary College principal Rob Pyers said every day at school was important for students.

"We work closely with the parents and guardians to make sure student attendance is at an appropriate level and if there are issues, it's about working together and thinking about the best outcomes for the student," he said.

"No matter what policy the State Government introduces, it's about making sure each student gets the best education they can."

Education Minister Martin Dixon said that previously, the only way to tackle serial offenders who were jeopardising their children's future was to take them to court.

"There will always be times when students need to miss school and the majority of parents are doing the right thing, but we know that in many cases, parents are choosing for their children to be away," he said.

"These infringement notices are an absolute last resort after all other avenues have been exhausted, including working directly with the family to identify why the student is missing school."

Mr Dixon said the most important factor in achieving a great education was attending school.

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