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Figures reveal fall in persistent absence from school

26/03/2014 Kelly
New figures have revealed that the number of pupils regularly missing school is down by almost a third.

In the 2012-2013 academic year, 300,895 were persistently absent, compared with 433,130 in 2009-2010.

Some 130,000 fewer pupils were missing 15 per cent of school - the level above which absence is defined as 'persistent' - which is equivalent to 18 months of a school career.

In total, the number of days lost to absence was down by 7.7 million during the period, while overall absence was down from six per cent of sessions in 2009-2010 to 5.2 per cent of sessions in 2012-2013.

According to the Department for Education, this is a result of the government's measures to boost attendance and improve classroom discipline, with those in education jobs being given greater powers to tackle bad behaviour.

It has encouraged schools to tackle the problem of persistent absence earlier. From October 2011, the threshold by which absence is defined as persistent was cut from 20 per cent to 15 per cent.

Fines for truancy were also increased from £50 to £60, with tougher sanctions if they are not paid within 28 days.

In addition, teachers are now able to use "reasonable force" to control behaviour and impose same-day detentions.

Education secretary Michael Gove said: "There is no excuse for skipping school. We have taken action to reduce absence by increasing fines and encouraging schools to address the problem earlier.

"Today's figures show we are making progress, with 130,000 fewer pupils regularly missing school under this government."

Evidence shows that pupils who are consistently absent from school perform less well academically than their peers.

Only 39 per cent of pupils who miss between ten and 20 per cent of school go on to achieve at least five good A* to C grades, including English and maths. The figure is 73 per cent for those who miss less than five per cent of school.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801706747-ADNFCR
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