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Truancy is worst in the country'

PUBLISHED: 16:11 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:37 25 August 2010

A COUNCIL has refused to comment after it was revealed that it has the highest rate of primary school truancy in the country.

A COUNCIL has refused to comment after it was revealed that it has the highest rate of primary school truancy in the country.

Greenwich council's primary schools saw 57,475 half days missed through unauthorised absence between autumn 2007 and Spring this year - 1.5 per cent of the total days.

The national average for days lost through unexplained absence was almost a third of that in Greenwich, government statistics revealed on October 21.

Yet Greenwich councillors refused to explain or even comment on the statistics.

Truancy accounted for 0.75 per cent of half days in Bexley primary schools, and 0.71 per cent in Bromley primary schools, although authorised absences were higher in those boroughs.

Spencer Drury, leader of the Conservatives in Greenwich council, said: "There clearly is an issue here in that there is such a high rate of unauthorised absence.

"But it looks like Greenwich is classing more absences as unauthorised. While unauthorised absence is high, overall absence is not as bad as Brent or Camden's."

Secondary schools in Greenwich also saw levels of unexplained absence well above the national and London averages.

More than seven per cent of all half days were lost through absence, and some 68,886 of those were unexplained - double the rate of truancies in Bromley or Bexley.

While Greenwich's overall absence was 9th highest in London, it was only marginally higher than Bromley's.

A spokesperson for Bromley council said: "We take truancy very seriously and have developed a range of strategies for improving attendance.

"Our incentive scheme at primary school level, called Spike, has educated children about the value of every day spent at school.

"We also have truancy patrols and in cases of persistent truancy we are not afraid to prosecute parents as a last resort."

Parents seeking advice on curbing their child's truancy can get help at www.parentscare.gov.uk.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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