Struggle to stop hardcore truants

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THE NUMBER of Wigan youngsters skipping school has seen a big drop this year – but a number of hardcore truants remain.

Figures released by the Government show the number of students missing lessons on a regular basis has fallen by a massive 17 per cent.

We are pleased that our hard work has paid off and that our school attendance rates continue to exceed the regional and national average – which is reflected in our high attainment levels

Kirston Nelson - assistant director for education

But the borough’s primary and secondary schools are still struggling to deal with 1,398 pupils classed as persistent absentees.

Education bosses at Wigan Council said the figures reflect the success of early intervention schemes.

School staff are expected to identify pupils who are in danger of becoming serial truants and create programmes to encourage them to attend classes. Kirston Nelson, assistant director for education, said: “Research shows the impact attendance has on attainment levels, which is why Wigan Council and local schools are working hard to ensure high attendance levels at both primary and secondary schools.

“We are pleased that our hard work has paid off and that our school attendance rates continue to exceed the regional and national average – which is reflected in our high attainment levels.”

According to the Department for Education statistics, within Wigan’s primary schools the number of regular truants dropped from 509 to 431 compared to the year before.

In secondary schools the number fell from 1,177 to 967, a combined reduction from 1,686 to 1,398.

Persistent absentees are classified as having an overall absence rate of 15 per cent or more.

Across the country the percentage of regular absentees in all schools dropped, from 2.7 to 1.9 in primary and 6.5 to 5.3 in secondary.

Ms Nelson added: “We believe the falling number of persistent absentees in Wigan is due to the successful relationships between schools, parents and our Gateway Service: the council’s early intervention and prevention service for those up to the age of 19.

“We will continue to work hard to reduce these figures further.”