Truancy rates at national average

THE number of pupils deliberately missing lessons in the county is in line with the national average, new figures show.

The latest Department of Education statistics for 2010-11 show that the number of half days missed due to unauthorised absence was at 1.1 per cent countywide, which is the average for England.

But the figures also show the number of pupils persistently absent from schools in Kettering and Corby was higher than the national average, with Corby’s rate of 7.7 the highest in the county.

William Thallon, head-teacher at Wrenn School in Wellingborough, said: “I think schools have to do two things to cut down absence rates: working with parents and making the school an environment where pupils want to come to.

“We have a parents support advisor who works very closely with families where attendance is a problem.

“The figure on unauthorised absences could also mean holidays taken in term-time.

“In the financial climate, perhaps some parents are finding it more viable to go on holiday during term-time.”

The figures show that Corby has an absence rate of 1.4 per cent, Kettering and Wellingborough 1.1 per cent, and East Northamptonshire 0.7 per cent.

The countywide percentage of persistent absentees, who are estimated to have missed 15 per cent of lessons, was 5.9 per cent – lower than the national average of 6.1.

The number of prosecutions of parents who fail to prevent their child from persistently truanting also fell by more than 50 per cent in the past year.

The number of prosecutions last year stood at 45, compared with 132 in 2009.

A county council spokesman said: “Regular school attendance has always been important and is a legal requirement.

“It’s estimated that missing two weeks of term-time in each year of a child’s school life is the same as missing one whole school year, and it has been calculated that 17 missed school days equates to one dropped grade at GCSE level.”