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Testimonials
25 Mar 2010

Truancy Levels Rise in England.


The truancy rate for schools in England has risen slightly - to the highest level ever recorded.

Statistics for the last academic year (to July 2009), show the rate of unauthorised absence rose by 0.04%.

That means that 1.05% of school sessions were missed without permission - up from 1.01%.

The government confirms that the truancy rate is at its highest level, but says that overall absence from school has fallen to a record low.

This is explained by fewer children missing school with permission.

When truancy and authorised absence are taken together, the overall absence rate is 6.27% - a slight fall on the previous year's level of 6.29%.

The government has been trying to clamp down on truancy and parents have been prosecuted for letting their children miss school - but it is proving a hard nut to crack.

When Labour came to power in 1997, the annual rate of unauthorised absence was 0.7% - a constant figure since 1994.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said: "Overall absence has again fallen to a record low. Every day over 70,000 more pupils are now in school than would be the case if absence rates were still at the level of 1996/97.

"Schools are, quite rightly, cracking down on absence. Weak excuses for missing school, such as over-sleeping or a day's holiday, are no longer accepted - so it's no surprise that with this tougher approach there is a slight rise in unauthorised absence.

"Ultimately it is down to parents - not schools. Parents have a clear duty to ensure that their child is in school and are not simply allowing them to miss their education."

The figures - released by the Department for Children Schools and Families - show that the rate of truancy at England's secondary schools stayed the same as in 2007/08, but that the rate rose in England's primary schools.

Truancy rates are highest in the country's "special schools", where children are taught if they leave or are expelled from mainstream school.

Across England, areas with high levels of absenteeism include Manchester, Sandwell in the West Midlands and Newcastle-upon- Tyne.

Lowest levels were found in the City of London, Kingston-upon-Thames and the Isles of Scilly.

Across the UK, overall absence rates in Northern Ireland are similar to those in England, while those in Scotland and Wales are a little higher, at roughly 6.8%.

By Angela Harrison
Education reporter, BBC News
With thanks to BBC News for this news item: bbc.co.uk/news