Nearly 300 pupils regularly truant

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A HARDCORE of nearly 300 school pupils in Wigan are missing at least one third of their lessons.

Despite the latest figures revealing that overall pupil absence rates fell between September and December last year, there are still 276 pupils at state schools in the borough who missed more than 23 days of schooling in a single 12 week term.

This accounted for 0.7 per cent of pupils enrolled at primary and secondary schools in Wigan borough - a drop from 1.3 per cent during the same period the year before (2011).

Stephen Clarke, managing director of Contact Group, which runs the national Truancy Call scheme said: “The Government, schools and Local Authorities have implemented a range of tactics to tackle unauthorised absence in UK schools.

“The statistics released today show an increase in the number of unauthorised absences in England. Truancy remains an ongoing issue that must be tackled head-on, in the most efficient ways possible.”

In September last year, the Wigan Evening Post revealed that 152 parents were prosecuted between January 2009 and December 2010 after their children played truant.

Figures released through a Freedom of Information request reveal that the 152 people prosecuted paid £32,585 in fines and court costs. They also racked up 1,730 hours in unpaid work. In other cases, parents were given parenting orders and curfews.

In two cases, parents were given 28-day and 14-day prison sentences and 10 parents were given suspended prison sentences from eight weeks to five months.

By law, all children of compulsory school age (five to 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. Parents have a legal responsibility to make sure this happens.