Truancy levels rise despite £16m drive

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The Independent Online

Nearly one in four secondary pupils played truant last year, despite a £16m drive to cut the number of children skipping class.

Nearly one in four secondary pupils played truant last year, despite a £16m drive to cut the number of children skipping class.

Truancy levels rose by 6.54 per cent last year with an average of 48,900 pupils missing school without permission each day, an increase of 2,000 students a day on the previous year.

The Government failed to reach its target to cut unauthorised absence by 10 per cent between 2002 and 2004, according to statistics from the Department for Education and Skills.

Unauthorised absence, which includes lateness and holidays taken without permission as well as truancy, rose by 0.9 per cent for all schools in England during this period.

At primary level the picture improved, with fewer children skipping lessons either with or without permission.

In secondary schools, authorised absences - which include time taken off for hospital appointments or holidays approved by the school - fell by 3.9 per cent on last year.

This meant that overall absences from all schools were down this year with around 17,000 more children, out of 6.6 million of school age, attending school each day.

Stephen Twigg, the Education minister, pledged to crack down on the "hard core" of "serial truants" and published new research claiming almost half of truancy was caused by just 2 per cent of students.

Nearly one in four (23 per cent) secondary school students skipped lessons without permission last year, missing an average of a week and a half of lessons. One in six primary school pupils played truant, missing an average of four days of school during the year.

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