Schools waging war on truancy

w1123b541 Generic pic to illustrate truancy.'class classroom teaching
w1123b541 Generic pic to illustrate truancy.'class classroom teaching
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SCHOOL attendance has ‘improved significantly’ as new figures show a reduction in the number of pupils classed as persistently absent.

Statistics show 4,060 youngsters in Sheffield, or 6.4 per cent of pupils in all city schools, missed more than a month of lessons last year – 800 fewer than in the previous 12 months.

Over 1.3 per cent of all absences were unauthorised, which can include pupils playing truant or being off for holidays during term time, although that figure has also dropped.

Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families at Sheffield Council, said: “We are pleased that attendance in our schools improved significantly last year, this was due to our new attendance strategy and by working in partnership with pupils, parents or carers and schools.

“I welcome these improvements but recognise we need to continue working hard in this very important area to maintain this progress.”

Athelstan Primary School in Handsworth has launched an action plan to improve its attendance further with initiatives for pupils such as badges and prize draws, plus awareness work at parents’ evenings.

Jean Picksley, deputy headteacher, said one reason children were absent was because parents still took them on unauthorised holidays during term time.

She added: “We are all working together to improve attendance and give children the best start in life and chances.

“If children aren’t at school they can’t learn.”

The Government last year lowered the persistent absence threshold from 20 per cent of school missed to 15 per cent so headteachers can step in to tackle problems earlier.

In South Yorkshire the number of children classed as persistently absent from school has dropped, in line with a national decline, by 2,230, but still totals over 10,350.

In Rotherham the figure was 2,285, down from 3,020, while in Doncaster the number dropped from 2,920 compared to 2,225 the previous year.

Barnsley’s figure also reduced from 3,020 to 2,285.

Absences in numbers:

How much the number of absent pupils in Sheffield has fallen by - 800

The total number of city youngsters persistently absent last year - 4,060

Children who missed a month of school in the county - 10,350