The BBC reports that one in 10 school children being classed as “persistently absent” is a figure that won’t sit well with the government. A persistently absent child is one who misses school for at least 10% of the time.
The number of children who were persistently absent in the autumn and spring terms of 2016 and 2017 increased slightly compared to the same period in the previous year, from 10.3% to 10.4%. Secondary schools had a higher rate of persistent absence than primary schools.
Taking to the streets in cities across the country, the team asked children themselves why they skipped classes. They gave a range of reasons including anxiety, depression, bullying and having little interest in the subjects they are taught.
Many said they wanted more support at school and some wished they could go back and “just start all over again”.
According to the Department for Education’s latest statistics, sickness was the main reason for absence in the autumn 2016 and spring 2017 terms. But illness rates remained the same as the previous year at 2.7%. Unauthorised absences, however, rose, including unauthorised family holidays.
What’s most surprising is where truancy was at its highest. While high deprivation indicators based on health, crime, education and crucially income are commonly linked to high truancy, a closer look shows this isn’t necessarily the case.
Bath and North East Somerset is one of England’s wealthiest local authorities, according to deprivation indices, but it had one of the highest levels of truancy in 2015 to 2016. At the other end of the scale Manchester, a city which ranks highly on deprivation levels, had one of the lowest levels of truancy.
Watch interviews with pupils explaining the reasons why they didn’t attend school School attendance and absence: The facts – Video
Many pupils said lack of support and confidence were reasons they played truant. Have you found this in your local area? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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