Council praises partnership working for improved attendance in Sheffield schools

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Partnership working between schools and the council has helped improve attendance in Sheffield schools.

The overall absence rate in city schools has fallen from 5.2 per cent in 2014/15 to 5 per cent in 2015/16, according to Government figures.

But they show a rise in youngsters who have missed school through an unauthorised absence, such as a term-time holiday.

Figures show that there was the equivalent of 1.8 sessions - half a school day - missed for every one of the 66,712 pupils who attended city schools in 2015-16.

This was a rise of 0.1 per cent compared to the previous academic year.

They also showed that 3.2 per cent of sessions were missed last year due to authorised absence, such as illness - compared to 3.5 per cent the year before.

Education officials at Sheffield Council said the improvement in overall absence and authorised absence was a result of partnership working between the local authority, schools, health services and families.

A council spokesman said the rise in youngsters classed as persistently absent was down to the way the figures are measured by the Government.

He said: "The rise in persistent absence here in Sheffield can generally be attributed to the Government’s change in how the figures are measured.

“Prior to the school year 2015/16, a child would be considered to be persistently absent if their attendance was below 85 per cent.

“However, the new measures consider a child to be persistently absent if their attendance is below 90 per cent. Due to this change, the persistent absence figures now include those pupils who have an attendance between 85 and 90.9 per cent – who would not have been included in the past.

“Our improvements in overall absence and authorised absence, along with the slight rise in absences recorded as unauthorised, is a result of partnership working with schools, health services and families to improve school attendance.

“Good school attendance is absolutely vital in order for children to access the education that they are entitled to and which enables them to reach their potential.”

The increase in term-time holidays follows a widely-publicised court case last May in which father Jon Platt successfully overturned Isle of Wight Council’s fine, issued to him for taking his daughter out of school to visit Disney World during term-time.

Isle of Wight Council appealed against the verdict and Mr Platt's case went to the Supreme Court in January 2017, which reserved judgment.

Rules came into force in 2013 following concerns that some families saw going away during term-time as an entitlement.

If a school declares an absence unauthorised, the council can fine a parent £60 per child, which doubles to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

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