1,600 regular truants

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Education news
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WIGAN’S schools have 1,600 hardcore truants on their books, shocking new figures reveal.

Government statistics show that the percentage of persistent absentees across the borough has risen since last year.

However, the problem of absent students is less widespread in Wigan than across other areas of the country.

Education bosses at Wigan Council said procedures are in place to identify at an early stage if a pupil is in danger of becoming a serial skiver and what the causes of his or her reluctance to attend classes are.

Sue Astbury, assistant director for early intervention and prevention, said: “Good school attendance is fundamental to the achievement of better outcomes for children and young people.

“Schools work hard to identify pupil issues and early and - with some timely family support from the council’s Gateway teams - we manage to address patterns of absence and promote good attendance.”

According to the Department for Education report, 509 persistent absentees were recorded in the borough’s primary schools: 2.4 per cent of the year’s cohort of students.

This compared favourably to the regional (2.8) and national (2.7) rates.

For secondary schools, 1,177 students were listed as regular offenders, working out at 6.5 per cent, level with the national rate and slightly fewer than the North West average (6.6).

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

The previous year, there were 1,757 persistent absentees, equating to four per cent of students across all schools, which has increased to 4.4 per cent in 2012/13.

Earlier this year, it was reported that between September and November last year, almost 200 parents had been issued with fixed penalty notices for failing to make sure their children attend school.

Since September, the government has introduced tougher regulations on term-time absence for holidays.

Ms Astbury added: “Clear guidance is made available to parents which outlines their responsibilities and the legal measures which reinforce these.

“We are delighted that our school absence rates continue to exceed the regional and national average.

“We believe this is due to the successful relationships between schools, parents and the our Gateway Service: the council’s early intervention and prevention service for those up to the age of 19.”