pound;1bn anti-truancy bill, but 63,000 skip class daily

29th February 2008 at 00:00
Heads say parents taking pupils on term-time holidays are partially to blame for truancy figures rising to a new high. Pupils were absent without authorisation from a record 1 per cent of all school sessions during 200607.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "A rise in unauthorised absence is more likely to occur because schools have tightened up on the definition of unauthorised rather than because of a growth in truancy.

"In particular, schools have become stricter over parents taking their children out of school for holidays in term time."

The statistics provided details for the first time of the reasons why pupils miss school and showed that agreed family holidays accounted for 10 per cent of all school absence, with unauthorised holidays making up a further 1 per cent.

Sickness was the biggest reason of all, accounting for 55 per cent of school absence.

Mr Dunford's comments offer some support for Kevin Brennan, the children's minister, who insisted that unauthorised absence was not the same as truancy. It had increased because schools were getting tough on weak excuses they would once have authorised.

But the figures - which show that about 63,000 pupils skipped class every day, while nearly 273,000 pupils were absent for at least one day a week - do not make good reading for a government that has spent nearly pound;1 billion on anti-truancy initiatives.

Opposition politicians said the figures showed that ministers had not got to grips with the problem.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today