1,400 schoolchildren regularly missing classes

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A staggering 1,400 schoolchildren are regularly missing classes in Wigan’s schools, according to government figures.

The number of hardcore truants has remained at similar levels to the previous year and remain slightly better than the North West average.

Council bosses told the Evening Post they are pleased the borough compares favourably to the regional figures but have pledged to continue to tackle poor absence rates.

The Department for Education statistics, covering the 2014/15 school year, reveal the borough’s primary schools had 458 regular truants and our secondary schools had 1,419.

This compares with 431 and 1,398 the previous year. Regular truants are pupils who have absence rates of 15 per cent or more.

Alan Lindsay, Wigan Council’s assistant director for education, said: “There is a proven link between good attendance at school and the progress children and young people make through their education.”

“This is why Wigan Council and local schools work hard in partnership to ensure the best possible attendance rates for young people across all our schools.

“We’re pleased our school absence rates continue to be better than the regional average and we will continue to work with parents and partners to help regular non-attenders overcome the barriers that are impacting on their attendance at school.”

Across all primary, secondary and special schools in the borough, the number of regular truants was 1,495 which accounts for 3.7 per cent of all students, on par with the North West (3.8) and national (3.7) averages.

Earlier this year the Evening Post revealed Wigan parents were fined £10,000 for failing to ensure their children attended school.

An investigation found the number of parents in the borough fined for taking their children out of school during term time has increased five-fold.

Wigan schools handed out 166 fines in 2014-15 compared to just 33 in the previous period.

Hindley Green Community Primary had the highest number of parents receiving official warnings for taking their children out of school during term time. Brychall High and St Edmond Arrowsmith were the secondary schools with the highest number of warnings, with 47 and 41 each.

Mr Lindsay added: “We have a successful relationship between schools, parents and our Start Well services and we will continue to work hard to reduce these figures further.”