Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Skiving Off-It's Complicated, OK?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Skiving Off-It's Complicated, OK?

Article excerpt

A new Conservative Party study claims that roughly 50,000 children in the most deprived areas of England are missing one day of school a week.

In the most deprived areas, 6.1 per cent of children were classed as "persistent absentees" because they were away for at least one-fifth of school, compared with just 1.2 per cent of children who came from the richest 10 per cent of neighbourhoods.

According to the Tory shadow children's secretary, Michael Gove, the figures demonstrate that the problem of truancy is "concentrated in the most deprived neighbourhoods" and that we should focus on these areas, "giving extra money to schools that take children from the most deprived backgrounds so that we can give these children the opportunities which others take for granted".

However, the issues linking school absence with poverty are complex. Many children caught truanting are actually with an adult at the time. Some avoid school because of bullying and others because they do not like a specific subject or teacher.

Back in 1994, Sean Gabb wrote in his Report of the North London Truancy Unit that patterns of attendance may vary greatly between schools within the same homogeneous catchment area and suggests that such differences in these rates cannot be wholly related to the children.

A 2005 National Foundation for Educational Research study, Reclaiming Those Disengaged from Education and Learning: a European Perspective, found that disengagement from school triggered one of two reactions -fight (behavioural problems) or flight (non-attendance). …

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