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Truancy blitz 'is paying off' SCHOOLS: Feeble excuses no longer wash as absence figure rises.

Byline: By Paul Bradley

MORE children in Worcestershire have been bunking off school, it was revealed today.

The number of pupils who refused to go to lessons increased compared to last year as dozens of children, some as young as five, failed to give a legitimate reason for why they did not attend.

Unauthorised absences rose from 0.63 per cent in 2005/6 to 0.76 per cent of the school population last year.

But Worcestershire County Council insisted their hardline stance was beginning to pay dividends as the unauthorised absence rate was well below the national average of one per cent of half-days missed.

Coun Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "Raising standards in schools is a county council priority, but we can only raise the educational achievement of our children if they're in school to receive a fair education.

"We have been praised for our absence work and it seems that our policy of getting tough has been replicated by other local authorities. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and other local authorities following suit is pleasing."

Primary school unauthorised absence rates in Worcestershire stood at 0.31 percent of half days missed with secondary school rates standing at 1.14 percent.

Both rates were below the national average but higher than the previous year's rates.

Coun Eyre added: "In all seriousness, we must reiterate that our headteachers deserve the credit for getting tough with weak excuses because it can affect their performance in league tables.

"We will continue to work together to ensure that this success continues."

Minister for young people Kevin Brennan claimed the rise in unauthorised absence rates was no surprise as teachers refused to be fobbed off by weak excuses and instead recorded the absences as unauthorised.

Mr Brennan said: "It is no surprise when the unauthorised absence figure goes up because schools are taking a tougher stance on weak excuses."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 31, 2008
Words:323
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