Pupils who miss month of lessons

WIGAN has more than 2,500 persistent truants according to Government figures.

Statistics published by the Department for Education showed that of the 39,500 pupils enrolled at state-funded primary and secondary schools in the borough, some 2.592 pupils were deemed to be persistent absentees in the Spring and Autumn terms this year - 6.6 per cent of the school population.

However, while the figures appear high, they are still less than the North West average of 7.4 per cent and the national average of 7.2 per cent of pupils being labelled as persistent absentees.

Pupils are classed to be persistent absentees if they miss more than 15 per cent of all possible half day sessions.

The figures also showed that the “unauthorised absence” rate for the autumn and spring terms of 2010/11 stood at 1.04 per cent in Wigan for both secondary and primary schools - higher than the North West average of 1.02 per cent and the national average of 1.03 per cent.

Nationally, across state-funded primary and secondary schools, persistent absentees accounted for 29.2 per cent of overall absence - 23.5 per cent of authorised absence and 55.6 per cent of unauthorised absence.

The rate of overall absence (authorised and unauthorised) for persistent absentees was 23.5 per cent.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the figures revealed the worrying extent of absenteeism in schools.

He said: “It is unacceptable that more than 450,000 pupils are missing the equivalent of a month of lessons a year.

“Children who are absent for substantial parts of their education fall behind and struggle to catch up.

“By lowering the threshold, we are encouraging schools to crack down on absence before the problem escalates.”

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.”

We asked Wigan’s local education authority to comment on the figures but no-one was available.