'Worrying' truancy levels revealed at Nottingham schools
HIGH numbers of city schoolchildren are regularly missing classes, according to the latest Government figures.
More than 2,000 pupils were persistently absent during the autumn term in 2011 and spring term in 2012 – among the worst nationally.
Ian Stevenson, regional secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said the statistics are "worrying" but there were a number of factors that needed to be looked at.
He added: "There is more behind levels of absence than the figures themselves – you have to look at potential barriers to education, be it poverty, language issues or perhaps parents not seeing the benefit of education.
"In any case, the focus should be on bringing these barriers down and not just simply taking parents of absentee children to court.
"Handing out fines won't solve the underlying problems – we need more early intervention type programmes like Sure Start, and this is exactly the type of thing that Government is removing funding for."
To be classed as persistently absent, a pupil has to miss 15 per cent or more of lessons.
The figures show that 5.3 per cent of primary pupils were classed as persistent absentees.
While this is a vast improvement on the previous – when the figure stood at 9.9 per cent – the city is still the second worst of the 153 education authorities in England.
At secondary level, 10.3 per cent of students in the city were classed as persistent absentees, making them joint fourth worst across the country.
Parent Becky Humber, of Bilborough, said that having such a high level of truancy is concerning for her.
She said: "I have two children aged 13 and 11 that go to Hadden Park School and hearing there's a high truancy level in the city is a big problem.
"It just disrupts everyone's education when people miss school, because then people have to catch up.
"Councils should show parents and pupils that school is important and make sure children are engaged with school rather than threaten people with fines."
Meanwhile, schools in the county improved their year-on-year figures and are below the national average for persistent absentees in primary and secondary schools.
In primaries, 3.2 per cent of pupils were persistently absent, down from five per cent, while in secondaries the figure was 6.6 per cent, down from 9.5 per cent.
Laurence Jones, Notts County Council's group manager for targeted support and youth justice services, said the figures were "encouraging".
He added: "Where schools have been unable to address issues of attendance with a child's family, or where they are concerned that a child's behaviour makes exclusion likely, schools may refer to cases to our targeted support service.
"We appoint a case manager who assesses the issues for the child and family through interviews and access to records held by various professional agencies.
"They will then agree a plan with the family to improve attendance or behaviour.
"Where a parent fails to engage in the assessment or planning, or fails to make sufficient efforts to improve the situation, then we will begin proceedings to prosecute them."