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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
More and more pupils play truant
By Gary Eason
Education editor, BBC News website

graph showing absenteeism time series
Steadily more pupils appear to be turned off school
The number of secondary pupils in England playing truant at some point has gone up 40% over the past five years, official figures reveal.

They show that in the 2001-02 school year, 566,644 pupils were absent at some point without permission, which was 18.9% of all pupils.

This has risen steadily and last year 794,877 were absent without permission at some point, 26.5% of the total.

The average length of time away has fallen, from 17 half-days to 14.

The trend is also apparent in primary schools, though the increase has been less marked.

In 2001-02, 15.2% of primary pupils were absent without authorisation at some point - on average for nine half-day sessions.

Again the figure has risen steadily, to 17.3% in 2005-06, on average for eight half-days.

The statistics were presented differently prior to 2001-02.

The fact that more than a quarter of all secondary school pupils took time off last year casts a different light on the government's claim that much of the problem of truancy is down to a small minority of "hardcore miscreants".


Schools Minister Jim Knight said: "More than two-thirds of pupils with unauthorised absence miss five days or fewer.

"But it is disappointing that, at the other end of the scale, a stubborn minority of pupils remain determined to jeopardise their education and their futures by missing very significant amounts of their schooling."

Shadow Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the rise in the numbers of children playing truant was unacceptable.

"We need to focus on the causes of truancy and disaffection - mixed ability teaching, poor discipline and low levels of reading ability.

"That is why the Conservative Party is committed to setting children by ability, to greater discipline within schools, and to raising standards of literacy through a greater emphasis on synthetic phonics."

More primary age pupils truanting
21 Sep 06 |  Education
Primary school truancy crackdown
28 May 06 |  Education
Truancy levels 'under-estimated'
06 Sep 05 |  Education
Truants 'missing half a term'
01 Aug 05 |  Education
Truancy rate falls slightly
17 Sep 03 |  Education
Parents hit with truanting fines
24 Jun 05 |  Education
Teenage truancy increases sharply
21 Sep 05 |  Education


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