The Get a Grip campaign was established back in September in an attempt to improve low school attendance across East Sussex. The attendance in East Sussex, according to the council, is the lowest in Sussex. The campaign however, was received negatively by parents. Many labelled the campaign “insulting and condescending” “sexist” and “rude”. Parents started a petition to get the campaign stopped. It gained over 11,000 signatures and raised the attention of the council. However, the council dismissed the petition as they stated the campaign “wasn’t to offend” but to crack down on bad attendance. Special education officer Nathan Caine, stated that the campaign “is bold” and with that you will “offend some” but that “was not the intention of the campaign”.
Conservative Councillor Gerard Fox “East Sussex has one of the worst overall attendance records in England” he also went on to say “we have 7,000 children who are persistently absent in this country”.
Parents have said that the council has showed a total lack of understanding through this campaign and one parent took to the internet and blogged a factual post to argue against points made by the council, where they gave reasoning behind Get a Grip. The writer of the blog stated “East Sussex Council’s approach is an example of the widespread and growing level of misunderstanding around attendance policy.” She highlights several misconceptions that many parents can relate to. Check out her blog here http://www.theparentsunion.uk/2017/11/16/petition-against-east-sussex-councils-get-a-grip-campaign/
Another crack down aspect of the controversial campaign is the penalties that parents and carers of children are receiving. Throughout East Sussex parents are being hit with fines and costs of more than £17,000. The council released statistics that showed the prosecution of 46 parents in October and November 2017 alone for failing to get their child to school regularly. Parents from Hastings, Eastbourne and Wealden had been issued with finds of £8,019 plus court costs of £9,314.97. Councillors stated that the campaign had successful highlighted the issue.