Truancy shock in Essex schools
NEARLY 6,000 pupils in Essex are regularly off school, latest figures have revealed. Of the county's 83,500 youngsters in secondary education, more than 7% are regarded as “persistent absentees”, compared to Suffolk schools which had 5.
NEARLY 6,000 pupils in Essex are regularly off school, latest figures have revealed.
Of the county's 83,500 youngsters in secondary education, more than 7% are regarded as “persistent absentees”, compared to Suffolk schools which had 5.7%.
Last night Essex County Council said it was taking action to crack down on the problem.
Efforts to encourage attendance are also made through “reward systems”, which for one school means a lottery with tickets given to youngsters who don't take time off.
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The persistent absenteeism figures includes truants, pupils who are temporarily excluded, sick, and those who take term-time holidays with their parents.
In Essex the persistent absentees - those who have more than 63 sessions off during a year - are responsible for almost 30% of the total time pupils' are off.
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The results have been released by the Department for Education and Skills.
Jerry Glazier, the Essex representative for the National Union of Teachers, said schools needed to be given more freedom to offer a curriculum that interested pupils.
He said: “Disaffection, which is the principal reason why pupils don't go to school, is a major issue of concern to the profession.
“Often the problem teachers face is that schools do not have sufficient flexibility to have a curriculum mix which is attractive to those pupils most likely to be susceptible to truancy.”
Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council's cabinet member for children and families, said: “School attendance is taken extremely seriously by all schools and by the local authority, in what is an incredibly diverse county.
“All available resources are being channelled into supporting schools, such as developing reward systems, truancy free zones, register sweeps and the first day contact scheme, which alerts parents at the first signs of unauthorised absence.
“Truancy sweeps are also regularly carried out by the education welfare service and police.
“We are optimistic the fantastic work being done by both the schools, education welfare officers and other stakeholders will continue to have an impact and a significant improvement in attendance will be seen in the long-term.”