Education bosses welcome figures

EDUCATION bosses in Suffolk today welcomed new figures which show truancy rates in the county are below the national average.The results released by the Department for Education and Skills found pupils missed 0.

EDUCATION bosses in Suffolk today welcomed new figures which show truancy rates in the county are below the national average.

The results released by the Department for Education and Skills found pupils missed 0.79 per cent of school sessions through unauthorised absence in 2005-06 nationally. However, in Suffolk 0.70pc of sessions were missed because of truancy.

Patricia O'Brien, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for Children, Schools and Young People's Services, said: “We have been very active in tackling truancy and today's results show that we are succeeding in bringing down the numbers. We will continue to take firm action to improve school attendance.

“Making sure that young people regularly attend school is critically important to their development. Parents and carers do have a legal responsibility to make sure their children attend school.”

Some schools in Suffolk are declining to routinely authorise absences. As a result, there has been a decline in authorised absences and a rise in unauthorised absences for those schools.

While the council is pleased with the results, measures are in place to ensure the good work is sustained.

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Every school has an attendance strategy in place to target persistent truancy, reduce holidays taken during term time and lower the number of fixed term exclusions.

Nationally, the truancy rate in English schools rose last year to a record high. The figure of 0.79pc was 0.01 percentage point higher than the final figures for the previous school year.

Total absences from school, including agreed holidays and sick days, have also risen for the first time since 2001.

The figures showed that truancy fell slightly in secondary schools, but rose among primary school children, from 0.43pc of half-day sessions missed through unauthorised absence to 0.46pc.

Schools minister Jim Knight vowed to keep up the pressure on schools and local authorities to improve attendance.

He said: “More than two-thirds of pupils with unauthorised absence miss five days or fewer.

“But it is disappointing that, at the other end of the scale, a stubborn minority of pupils remain determined to jeopardise their education and their futures by missing very significant amounts of their schooling.”

Is truancy a problem in our schools? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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