The percentage of schoolchildren persistently absent from school in Suffolk has doubled in the last few years, which has been a "stubborn problem since the pandemic" according to a new report.

More than a fifth of school pupils in Suffolk have been found to be persistent school absentees in the last academic year, according to government figures.

Some 22.8% of pupils in Suffolk were "persistently absent", meaning they missed at least 10% of their school sessions, in the 2022/23 academic year. This is compared to 11.2% in 2018/19.

This is slightly above the national average, of 21.2% in 2022/23 and 10.5% in 2018/19, a similar increase.

Ofsted's annual report, published yesterday (Thursday, November 23), has spoken of a fracturing between the contract between parents and teachers, which sees parents get their children to class daily and respect school rules.

Dave Lee-Allen, former head at Stowmarket High School, said: "Headteachers across Suffolk have noticed that this is a significant problem, as it is across the country.

"There are many factors that cause this. There are good, supportive families that cannot get their child out of their room and are desperate for help, while other families that say they are taking them out for holidays and do not care about education.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mr Lee-Allen was headteacher at Stowmarket High School for eight years.Mr Lee-Allen was headteacher at Stowmarket High School for eight years. (Image: Archant)

"It would help to have support staff who can meet with families, talk to them, and show that there is a supportive structure.

"It may also help to look at the curriculum and ask if it is too narrow, and isn't meeting the needs of pupils, as this predominantly academic, knowledge-based curriculum switches them off.

"A number of schools have come under fire for attendance issues but as a headteacher it was frustrating, as our resources were stretched to breaking point, the world had changed, and pupils have had to cope through lockdowns.

"Schools are working really hard in challenging circumstances and there are many successes, where a small rise, while still below what attendance used to be, is actually an enormous achievement and many schools have achieved that and need to be applauded."