Truancy figures hit record levels

RECORD numbers of children skipped school last year with figures for Suffolk even worse than the national average, according to a report published today.

RECORD numbers of children skipped school last year with figures for Suffolk even worse than the national average, according to a report published today.

The official truancy rate for schools in England jumped by 0.07 percentage points - the biggest rise since detailed records began.

It was estimated that about 55,000 pupils were skipping classes every day during the 2004-05 school year - up by about 4,500 on the previous 12 months.

Statistics released by the Department for Education showed that unauthorised absence went up to 0.79 per cent and now stands at the highest level since 1994, when the figures were first compiled.

Schools minister Jacqui Smith said it was "disappointing" that a "hard core'' of pupils continued to skip school and announced a new Government drive to tackle the problem.

And the overall truancy in Suffolk was even higher at 0.85pc. The figure for Norfolk was 0.74pc.

Most Read

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “One of the best things parents and carers can do for children is to help them go to school regularly.

“If people miss school it can be difficult to catch up on work which can result in young people having gaps in learning and being disadvantaged during their school career and later in life.”

Truancy levels in Suffolk's secondary schools stayed above the national average of 1.25pc, despite falling slightly from 1.32 pc in 2003-2004 to 1.29pc in 2004-2005.

The figures, which are provisional for the 2004/05 school year, relate to the percentage of half-day sessions missed - the official way of measuring the issue.

Ministers unveiled a new crackdown on the problem today, ahead of the publication of the figures.

Under the drive, the parents of thousands of "serial truants" will be targeted for possible fast-track prosecution.

A "hit list' of about 8,000 pupils at 146 secondary schools will be given 12 weeks to improve their attendance or see their parents face fines or court appearances.

Pupils and their parents will also be given support to help increase their attendance rate, in the form of parenting classes or home liaison.

Schools will be asked to draw up lists of "hardcore truants'.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter