Sunderland education bosses wage war on truancy

Councillor Pat Smith
Councillor Pat Smith
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EDUCATION bosses in Sunderland have vowed to continue battling truancy.

As the local education authority, Sunderland City Council is pleased with the news that more children are regularly attending school.

Latest figures by the Department of Education show the percentage of students who are missing out on lessons, in Sunderland and nationally, has dropped.

Wearside’s education experts say working not only with the children, but with the whole family, is one of the keys to success.

Councillor Pat Smith, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “We take a very proactive approach to preventing absenteeism within our schools, and this significant reduction in figures helps demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach.

“Truancy 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 still further.”

The percentage of absence overall among primary-aged youngsters on Wearside has fallen from 5.3 in the academic year 2010/11, to 4.7 for the 2011/12 year.

Statistics also show the percentage of primary pupils who were persistently absent from school also fell, from 4.5 to 3.7 in Sunderland.

Persistent absence is calculated by the child missing 15 per cent or more of schooling, which is equal to 46 or more sessions each year.

Although student absence in secondary schools is higher than in primaries, these figures have also improved.

In Sunderland the percentage of pupils absent overall from secondary school fell from 7.1 in the school year 2010/11, to 6.4 the following year. The number who were persistently absent also fell, from 9.9 per cent to 8.6.

Across all schools, including primary, secondary and special needs schools, the percentage of persistent absentees fell from 7.2 to 6.1.

The figures also show drops from 6.0 to 5.0 in Durham and 7.2 to 5.5 in South Tyneside.