One in seven Leeds pupils 'persistently absent' from school

One in seven secondary school pupils is 'persistently absent' from school. Photo: PA
One in seven secondary school pupils is 'persistently absent' from school. Photo: PA

MORE than one in seven secondary school pupils in Leeds are classed as ‘persistently absent’ from lessons, new figures reveal.

A local education chief has spoken of the “challenge” of keeping some young people engaged with their learning, as the official figures also reveal that the number of parents fined for failing to make sure their children go to school has hit a five-year high.

Around one in 12 of the city’s primary school pupils missed a tenth of their lessons or more in the 2016/17 school year, meaning they were clased as persistent absentees, the Department for Education has revealed.

In Leeds’ secondary schools, the proportion of pupils deemed persistently absent was even higher, at 15 per cent.

Leeds City Council’s chief officer for learning improvement, Andrew Eastwood, said there could be “a challenge in maintaining some young people’s engagement in learning at secondary school, and we work with schools and families to focus on the causes of this”.

He said: “Improving school attendance continues to be one of our key priorities in Leeds.

“We believe that the best place for children and young people to be in term-time is in school, and the more a child takes a full and active part in school, the more chance they have to develop and reach their potential.

“Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind, and those with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school.”

The number of fines handed out to parents for failing to make sure their child attended school rose to 4,401 in Leeds last year, a five-year high.

Schools and local councils can impose fines of £60 on parents, rising to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the “rules on term-time absences are clear”.

Leeds has an above-average rate of children branded ‘persistently absent’ from school.

The proportion of persistent absentees in all its schools was 11.3 per cent, higher than the 10.8 per cent national average.

Wakefield had the highest rate in West Yorkshire, at 13.2 per cent, followed by Bradford, at 13 per cent.

Kirklees and Calderdale both fared better than the national average. Kirklees’ rate was 10.3 per cent and Calderdale’s was 9.5 per cent.

Exploring a new avenue for working