THE number of parents taken to court over their children’s truancy has taken a dramatic fall after interventions from Glasgow’s head of education.

In 2017, a high of 206 parents appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court on the grounds of not sending their children to school.

But this year just 44 parents faced court action - a drop of 79 per cent.

Maureen McKenna, Glasgow City Council's Executive Director of Education, attributed the dramatic fall to a new emphasis on wellbeing and working with families.

Mrs McKenna said: "Attendance in our schools is not going up or down, it is very stable, and we have had no permanent exclusions in the past two years.

"However, the number of parents being prosecuted was rising and that was not the type of response I wanted from our schools towards pupil attendance.

"To be clear, having prosecution as an option will always be there and, in some cases, it is necessary as non-attendance is wilful.

"But in most cases the reasons for non-attendance are due to children having highly complex backgrounds."

In 2014 a total of 182 parents were taken to court by the city council due to their children being absent from school.

In 2015 this was 189, in 2016 it was 148, it rose to a high of 206 in 2017 before falling to 150 last year and 44 this year.

Mrs McKenna set up a working group to look at the issues around truancy and made a raft of changes.

As one example, letters being sent out to parents were reworded to remove any "legalese" and make them easier to understand.

The education chief added: "Some of our families are experiencing real difficulties and we want to focus on the importance of wellbeing - so what can we do to wrap that around the child?

"We have a focus on child mental health and parents mental health so taking them to prosecution is not going to do anybody's mental health any good.

"We are a nurturing city so we have to be nurturing in all elements."

New policy guidelines for schools will be launched in January to complement new processes that came into place earlier this year.

Education bosses have said that schools must be more supportive and nurturing to pupils and their families.

The Education Liaison Officer role will be replaced by a new role with the job title of Home School Support Worker to reflect the change in ethos.

The Home School Support Worker will be part of a whole school approach to manage and support pupil attendance.

Details given by Glasgow City Council list that the new position will:

•Engage and build relationships with children and young people to support attendance at school.

•Provide support and work with children and young people to assist them to deal with the issues that have a negative impact on their ability to attend school.

•Facilitate the building of positive stable relationships with families and provide one to one support through home visits and schools meetings.

•Assist parents to implement agreed strategies that will improve the attendance of children and young people.

•Develop knowledge of family services available in the Learning Community and signpost families to appropriate available support.