Andrew Tarbert, headteacher of the 250-pupil school which has been beset by uncertainty and threats of closure, says: "We may have given pupils the benefit of the doubt in accepting their explanations for absence and therefore categorising them as authorised."
The school has the highest rate for authorised absences in the country, which Mr Tarbert says is also due to a number of other factors. A number of pupils remain on the school roll who are attending alternative placements in day care centres and child guidance clinics.
The school's past instability is also reflected in the remarkable composition of the fourth year: only 44 per cent started in the first year at St Gerard's. The majority, many of them from problem backgrounds, came from other schools either because of exclusions or ahead of exclusions or because of family troubles. "These fluctuations are significant in a small school like ours, " Mr Tarbert said.
The school now expects to have a more stable existence, allowing it to work on more promising attendance levels which are 91 per cent in S1 and 87 per cent in S2.