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Truants pin blame on dull lessons and conflict

"Boring" lessons are the main reason secondary pupils truant, a Mori survey has found. Other reasons cited were that they found lessons badly taught or too difficult, did not get on with their teacher or had not done their homework.

The Youth Survey was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board. Researchers spoke to 4,750 pupils aged 11-16 from 194 schools in England and Wales. About a quarter said they had missed school at least once.

Older pupils were more likely to say they had truanted because they had not done homework, while girls were more likely than boys to cite bullying or wanting to do something they felt would be more worthwhile.

Truancy is most common in the South East. The East of England and Yorkshire and Humber have the lowest truancy rates.

Ken Reid, deputy vice-chancellor of Swansea Metropolitan University and chair of the Welsh Assembly's review into school behaviour and attendance, believes the causes of truancy can be split into three groups: pupils' dislike of school, home difficulties and psychological problems.

Predictably, the study also indicated links between truancy and criminal. Those who had truanted significantly more were likely to have committed an offence in the last year and to have been a victim of a crime themselves.

"There needs to be much earlier intervention at the point when children start missing school and show the symptoms of continuing to do this," he said.

"Most solutions come much too late and are only introduced at the persistent stage. It's clear the peer-pressure reasons for truancy are a myth."

Peter Gibson, spokesman for youth organisation Rathbone, said children had told him they skipped school because it didn't seem relevant to their lives.

"We've found many who are not academic feel like a failure at school and their learning difficulties are not picked up early enough," he said.

"They want to be doing something practical, like learning a trade, and be treated like adults, not talked down to."

The survey found the proportion of pupils saying they began truanting in primary school fell to 20 per cent - from 26 per cent in 2005.

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