School absence figures in Norfolk are falling but secondary school students still missing more than national average

Children at work in the classroom.

Children at work in the classroom. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

The number of children who were persistently absent from school fell by 20pc in Norfolk last year, according to new figures from the Department for Education.

But the fall still saw 4,130 primary and secondary school students in Norfolk persistently absent, with secondary school absences 12pc higher than the national average, and performing worse than in neighbouring counties.

In Norfolk, 6.5pc of secondary school pupils missed 38 or more sessions in autumn 2013 and spring 2014, compared with 5.8pc in Cambridgeshire and 6pc in Suffolk.

Val Creasy, attendance and exclusions manager at Norfolk County Council, said the improvement was due to the hard work of schools to intervene before pupil absence became entrenched, and said the council had taken more cases down the legal route when things had not improved.

'Obviously we still have a way to go,' she said. 'While persistent absence in our secondary schools is above the national figure, in Norfolk the improvement was 1pc compared to 0.7pc nationally, and there has been progress in Norfolk over successive years.'

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Sanctions against the families of students who are absent from school can include fixed penalty notices, intervention and, as a final step, the option of bringing the case to court.

The number of persistent absences in Norfolk has fallen in recent years, from 7.2pc in 2009/10 and 5.3pc in 2012/13.

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Simon Laycock, deputy head at Broadland High School, said it was clear that students who are in school perform better than students who have time out.

He said: 'Fining parents is an option that is open to all schools but our first instance is to work with families to resolve the issue.'

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