Revealed: the schools where 1 in four play truant

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of state schools are today shown as having at least one in ten of their pupils playing truant regularly.

The figures are revealed in school performance league tables published today which list the percentage of pupils persistently truanting for the first time.

Almost 300 schools have at least ten per cent of their pupils in this category – which means they skip school for at least a day every week.

One of the Government’s flagship new academies has the worst truancy rate – the New Line Learning Academy in Maidstone, Kent, has 26.7 per cent of its pupils regularly playing truant.

It is one of two schools to register more than one in four pupils in this category – the other is Plant Hill arts College in Manchester with 26.5 per cent,

Previously, the tables just listed the percentage of unauthorised absence at any give school.

The league tables contain mixed messages for the Government – with a reduction in the number of schools failing to reach its minimum target of 30 per cent of pupils obtaining five A* to C grade GCSE passes including maths and English from 440 to just 300. Of these 300, 53 have either closed or become academies.

However, David Laws, the Liberal Democrats education spokesman, said: “Labour’s failure on education means that there are still thousands of pupils in schools in which most pupils fail to get five good GCSEs. This is completely unacceptable in a rich country like Britain.

“Instead of more daft gimmicks and initiatives from Ed Balls and Gordon Brown, we need action to reduce class sizes and improve school leadership.”

The figures underline the size of the Government’s task in trying to ensure every school reaches its target by next year. Schools Minister Vernon Coaker has said he is confident the number of schools on the list then will be “zero”.

The GCSE tables show 145 independent schools do not figure in the table or score nil. These are the ones that have dumped the GCSE in favour of its international rival – built on traditional O-level lines.

Top fee-paying schools like Winchester are amongst those who would register a nil score at GCSE.

“The comparison of school performance via league tables is deeply flawed, in particular given the wide variety of valid qualifications currently on offer and the differing views of their worth,” said David Lyscom, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council.

“Indeed, some qualifications – notably the demanding IGCSE – are not considered in the tables at all.”

He called on ministers to recognise their value, adding: “Otherwise, they (the league tables) simply serve to misinform and mislead parents.”

Meanwhile, the top performing school at A-level is a state grammar school –Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex with a point score per pupil. The leading fee-paying school is Hampton College with a point score of 1319.7 per pupil. Top of the non-selective state schools list is Hockerill Anglo-European College, which has ditched A-levels in favour of the International Baccalaureate.

See the full truancy table, and other tables here