Suffolk: 7.4% of primary school pupils regularly skipping classes

Suffolk schools are lagging behind

Suffolk schools are lagging behind - Credit: Archant � 2004

MORE than 450 primary age pupils in the town are regularly absent from school, new figures have revealed.

New Department for Education statistics show that in the 2011/12 academic year 4,788 Suffolk children repeatedly took time off school, both authorised and unauthorised, which was down by more than 400 from the previous period.

The area with the highest number of persistent absentees was Ipswich – which also has the largest student body – with 1,260 out of 17,067 children failing to attend state-funded primary, secondary and special schools frequently enough.

The figures equate to 7.4% of all pupils in the town being persistently absent – a rise from 7% the previous year.

In total, 5.7% of Suffolk’s 84,261 school-age youngsters, including 1,423 primary school pupils, failed to attend school on a consistent basis last year.

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for education and young people, said that in the long-term, missing school on a regular basis could seriously affect a child’s education.

He said: “Sometimes students are absent from school for entirely legitimate reasons. However, it’s when the absences are illegitimate that something needs to be done.

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“Long-term, missing school can seriously affect a child’s education. Studies have shown that continual absence can have a negative impact on a child’s attainment, potentially causing them to drop a grade at GCSE level.

“We encourage schools to challenge parents over unexplained periods of absence and where necessary, work with them to get the child back into the classroom as soon as possible.”

Across the country almost 60,000 fewer children were persistently absent from school last year, the Department for Education said. A child is defined as persistently absent if they miss more than a month of school - about 15% or more of school time.

Last year, 333,850 students were persistently absent from school – down from 392,305 in 2010/11.

The decline follows the Government’s decision to lower the persistent absence threshold from 20% of school missed to 15% of school missed so that heads can step in earlier to tackle problems.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “If children are not in school they cannot learn. Too many children are still missing too many lessons. We must continue to tackle poor attendance and make sure every pupil gets a good education.”

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