70,000 Pupils Play Truant Every Day

Article excerpt

Byline: LAURA CLARK

AT least 70,000 pupils are skipping school every day despite a [pounds sterling]1billion Government initiative to tackle truancy, it was revealed today.

Ministers have spent the equivalent of [pounds sterling]3,000a-year per truant on strategies which have done nothing to tackle the problem.

Truancy rates remain as high as they were a decade ago despite numerous measures to reduce absenteeism - 36 in the past two years alone.

Even the figure of 70,000 daily truants is likely to 'significantly understate' the problem, according to a report from the charity New Philanthropy Capital.

Thousands of pupils ensure they are registered in the morning or afternoon but then dodge particular lessons. Schools are also thought to 'massage' and ' misrepresent' their attendance figures to hide truancy problems.

The charity said official figures showed at least seven out of every 1,000 pupils are playing truant on any given day. 'The true figures are likely to be even higher,' it added.

It concluded at least 180,000 children should be classed as persistent truants - 2 per cent of the pupil population.

But the charity claimed the Government had 'no clear strategy' for tackling truancy despite spending [pounds sterling]885million on initiatives since 1997, and committing a further [pounds sterling]560million until 2006.

Its report blamed the failure to tackle truancy on the vast numbers of suggested solutions. …