Truancy-rates are improving

MORE Bulwell pupils are attending school than ever before.

Absence figures released by the Department for Education, covering the spring term this year, show improvement across all three ares of absence (authorised, unauthorised and overall).

Overall absence rates have fallen both for primary and secondary schools for the third consecutive year. The figure now stands at 5.9% compared to 6.3% in 2010-11. This moves Nottingham two places up in the rankings — from 145th to 143rd.

The city’s authorised absence figure fell from 4.29% in 2010-11 to 4.03% in 2012. This is more than twice the rate of improvement seen nationally (2.5%) and ranks Nottingham a remarkable 50 places higher than the previous year (from 71st to 21st).

Unauthorised absence has improved slightly from 2.01% in 2010-11 to 1.87% in 2012. Nationally there has been no change.

Primary schools across Nottingham have also seen improvements, with overall absence falling for the third consecutive year — from 5.24% in 2010-11 to 5.07% in 2011-12. The city is now ranked joined 125th in this category.

Measures pursued by Nottingham City Council to improve attendance figures include fast-track intervention and a focus on children, families and localities where the problems are most entrenched.

There has also been increased use of penalty notices for persistent lateness and unauthorised holidays. This allows the council to exercise its legal powers while giving parents a chance to change behaviour before cases are taken to court.

The council’s director of family community teams, Tim O’Neill, said: “The figures reflect our new focused and systematic approach.

“Improved attendance is being recognised more as a shared responsibility. Action taken in schools and within the community is now well co-ordinated and consistently applied across the city.

“Our next steps are to build on successful practice and look at how we can ensure swifter decision making.”