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Suffolk: Number of pupils regularly skipping school falls by nearly 25%

PUBLISHED: 13:12 22 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:12 22 April 2014

Truancy patrols

Truancy patrols

The rate of truancy in Suffolk has fallen dramatically in the last three years, according to new figures released by the Department for Education.

Persistent absenteeism has fallen by more than 23% since 2009/10, when 5,430 pupils were found to regularly skip school in the county. By contrast, the academic year 2012/13 saw the figure reduced to 4,173, a decline of 1,257.

Recently Suffolk County Council has teamed up with the police to launch high-profile crackdowns on truancy by seeking out school-age children in towns during school hours. In December last year eight parents received fines of £60 after a truancy sweep found 43 absent pupils in Ipswich.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We welcome this drop in truancy over the last few years. We feel this positive decrease is a combined effort between parents, teachers and head teachers in discouraging this activity.

“We have an excellent education welfare service in Suffolk and our staff work hard with police to educate parents about the need to ensure their children are in school, however sometimes tough action is needed to enforce the point that a child’s education must always come first.

“There is a strong need for young people to be in school learning every day. It’s about keeping children safe and making sure they are where they should be so they are not putting themselves in potential danger.”

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, seized upon the figures as validation of the government’s efforts to tackle truancy.

“Persistent absence from school has a serious and detrimental effect on a pupil’s performance,” he said. “Less than one in three pupils who miss between 10-20% of school time achieve at least 5A*-C GCSE grades. Thanks to this government’s actions truancy has dramatically fallen across schools in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market.

“By increasing fines and encouraging schools to address truancy earlier, the number of pupils persistently absent from school in Suffolk has fallen.”

Across the UK, persistent absence is down by almost a third.

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