SCHOOL truancy rates in Kirklees are slightly down on last year, despite a small increase nationally.
According to statistics released this week by the Department for Education, unauthorised absences from Kirklees primary schools were down from 5.23% in last year’s chart to 4.66% in the latest figures, which cover autumn term 2010 and spring term 2011.
A similar improvement has been seen in local secondary schools, with a decrease in truancy rates from 5.53% in 2009-10 to 4.93% in 2010-11. Nationally unauthorised absences have risen from 1.01% of all students to 1.03%.
Local schools with persistent truancy have worked with pupils and Kirklees Council in an effort to reduce the problem.
They have implemented a raft of measures to tackle the problem, including telephone calls on the first day of absence, letters home, meetings with parents and the issuing of contracts.
In addition, efforts are being made to encourage the public to report truancy.
Anyone ringing a Kirklees school these days will often find that option one in the telephone keypad is to report a child for truancy.
Kirklees Council has a policy of working with families, but where all else fails, they prosecute parents who refuse to co-operate with either the school or the council.
The slight reduction in truancy rates has been welcomed by Kirklees Council.
A spokesman said: “The latest truancy figures for Kirklees show a good improvement.
“Working closely with our local schools, we have prioritised ways to reduce the figures and we work very hard to improve our performance.
“We have put a lot of emphasis on supporting schools who have pupils in the category of persistent absence.
“Pupils are increasingly aware of their attendance levels as clearly there are major disadvantages in being absent from school – not just in terms of educational attainment, but also in harming their future opportunities.
“This work is important to the council and local schools and it reflects our priority of enhancing life chances for young people.”