Tayside is to make renewed efforts to ensure greater consistency in the way schools record pupil absence. The region acknowledges that previous attempts have met with limited success.
The move comes after Linlathen High in Dundee emerged from the latest Scottish Office attendance tables with the highest rate of unauthorised absences of any secondary school in Scotland, at 16 per cent (TESS, December 15). Perth Northern District primary, another Tayside school, had the highest incidence of primary pupils absent without permission, at 7 per cent.
John Wilson, convener of Tayside's education committee, said the region would suggest to the Scottish Office that there should simply be a requirement to record absences without subdivisions. Officials believe that, with 273 million marked attendances a year for 720,000 Scottish pupils, schools are having to spend too much time categorising authorised and unauthorised absences.
The Scottish Office has itself been wrestling with the complexities of providing information on school attendance, issuing three circulars in the past three years. Schools still have to grapple with 37 separate classifications under the broad headings of authorised and unauthorised attendance.
A report to the region's education committee on Tuesday said new discussions would be held with headteachers to iron out inconsistencies in the way absences are recorded. The report adds that the guidelines appear "to have resulted in a considerable amount of work to produce statistics of doubtful validity. "