Hundreds of children absent from school each day last year
PUBLISHED: 07:30 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:33 05 April 2019
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More than 1,300 pupils were missing from North Somerset's schools every day last year, new figures show.
The number of fines handed to parents for their child’s poor school attendance was also up 14 per cent compared to the previous year.
Department for Education figures show North Somerset’s state secondary school pupils missed 5.5 per cent of their lesson time in the 2017-18 academic year.
Of those absences, more than 20 per cent were unauthorised, which includes truancy and time off for family holidays where permission has not been granted.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “The education secretary has made clear, persistent absence from school is a society-wide challenge that we all need to work together to resolve – and while significant progress has been made, today’s data shows that has now plateaued.
“High quality education and pastoral care will make a real difference to children’s life chances, and that’s particularly important for those who are most vulnerable, but clearly key initiatives will only work if children are present.
”That’s why the rules on term-time absences are clear: no child should be taken out of school without good reason.
“We have put headteachers back in control by supporting them – and local authorities – to use their powers to deal with unauthorised absence.”
Absence rates remained the same in secondary schools compared to 2016-17, when 5.4 per cent of sessions were missed.
However, 13 per cent of the 11,120 pupils enrolled in secondary schools were classed as persistently absent, meaning they missed 10 per cent of their total learning time.
Primary pupils missed 4.2 per cent of their lesson time – the same as last year – with more than 20 per cent of absences unauthorised.
The number of fines given to North Somerset parents increased by 14 per cent last year – with 980 penalty notices, compared to 862 in 2016-17.
Nationally, the number of fines issued rose by 75 per cent to more than 260,000 in 2017-18 – 85 per cent of them for unauthorised family holidays. The percentage of time absent from state primary and secondary schools also increased slightly, from 4.6 per cent to 4.7 per cent.