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Crackdown on primary truancy
Southampton ’s primary schoolchildren are among the worst truants in the country, new figures show.
The city’s truancy rate was the highest in the south east and behind just eight other areas in England.
But the Department for education bulletin showed a far lower rate in the Hampshire County Council area, which was at the other end of the scale.
Ministers pledged to crack down on parents who allowed their children to skive off school, including increasing the level of fines imposed, and potential docking child benefit for repeat offenders.
Across the country, around 23,500 primary schoolchildren were skipping classes every day, the figures, which relate to the 2012 spring term, revealed.
Illness was the most common reason for absence, followed by family holiday – suggesting many parents are ignoring rules to take their children on cheaper termtime breaks.
In Southampton, 1.1 per cent of primary school sessions – equal to half a day of teaching – was missed because of unauthorised absence. This was a slight increase on 1.02 for the spring term of 2011.
Nottingham had the worst record, followed by Greenwich and Birmingham.
In Hampshire, 0.4 per cent of half days were lost to truancy, a slight increase on the previous year. The national average across England was 0.7 per cent.
In the area’s secondary schools, Southampton’s truancy rate was 2.3 per cent and Hampshire’s 1.2 per cent.
As reported in the Daily Echo, more than 800 parents were fined last year because of their children's truancy, mostly in Southampton, with over 200 ending up in court.
Earlier this year, the government’s behaviour tzar Charlie Taylor said any parents who refused to pay up should be docked the benefit to give headteachers more muscle in the fight against truants.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect on a child's education.
Children who attend school regularly are four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and maths, than those who are persistently absent.”
The Daily Echo contacted Southampton City Council , but no one was available to comment