COUNCIL bosses have pledged to crack down on truants after the number of Sunderland school pupils absent without permission was higher than the national average.
New statistics from the Department for Education show that 1.7 per cent of secondary school pupils had unauthorised absences in the autumn term 2012 – while the national average was just 0.9.
There was also an 0.4 per cent increase in the number of primary school pupils in the city absent without permission in the same period to 0.6 per cent – below the national average of 0.7 per cent. The number of pupils who had unauthorised absences has grown from one per cent in autumn 2011, to 1.1 per cent last year.
Councillor Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children’s services at Sunderland City Council, said: “We take a very proactive approach to prevent any unauthorised absences within our schools, and take even a slight increase in figures very seriously indeed. Truancy and unauthorised absence is often linked with issues outside of school, so it is important that we work with our partners to identify any families who may need our help to ensure their son or daughter’s long-term attendance.
“We all recognise how important it is for children and young people to have a consistent and uninterrupted education – and we hope that with the continued support of parents, we can work with schools to reduce absenteeism wherever we can.”