Absentees' poor show
Tens of thousands of children from England's poorest areas are missing, on average, a day of school each week, according to official figures. Persistent absence is five times higher in the most deprived 10 per cent of neighbourhoods compared to the richest 10 per cent, according to a Conservative Party analysis of Government statistics. It shows that 6.1 per cent of children in the poorest neighbourhoods - 49,979 in total - were classed as "persistent absentees" in 200708 because they missed at least a fifth of school. In the richest neighbourhoods, the figure was 1.2 per cent - 6,820 children. Shadow children's secretary Michael Gove said: "We need to focus on these areas, giving extra money to schools that take children from the most deprived backgrounds."