Truants missing a month of school

MORE than 1,000 Hampshire schoolchildren are skipping the equivalent of ONE MONTH’S school in a year.

Latest truancy figures show that 1,051 children in the Hampshire County Council area were branded “persistent absentees” for missing 46 sessions without permission – the equivalent of four week’s schooling.

And in Southampton, 313 primary and secondary school pupils came into the worst category.

The figures released yesterday by the Department for education were a snapshot from the autumn 2011 term.

Ministers have recently narrowed the definition of persistent absenteeism, making a comparison with previous years’ figures impossible. But there were sharp differences between the city and county council areas.

In Hampshire, 0.7 per cent of pupils were labelled persistent absentees – but in Southampton the rate was almost double, at 1.3 per cent.

In Hampshire, 0.7 per cent of all the half school days taught – the official measure of truancy – were missed. In Southampton, this figure was 1.5 per cent.

Earlier this year the Daily Echo revealed that more than 800 Hampshire parents had been issued with fines last year because of their children missing school.

And the Department for Education said more than 200 cases ended up in court.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said that a child’s academic achievement “suffers permanently” when they miss a substantial amount of term. But he added: “The figures show a welcome fall in absence due to lower levels of illness last year and a fall in the number of children taking time off to go on holiday.

“Such absence is still a problem but it is clear that more head teachers are refusing simply to wave through parents’ requests to take their children out of school for term time holidays.

“And increasingly parents understand the damage that can be caused to a child’s education from missing even a day or two of school.”

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