Plymouth children skipping school nearly double on pre-pandemic levels

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Absence rates for schools in Plymouth have need doubled on pre-pandemic levels, new figures show.

Plymouth City Council is now pushing to improve attendance, saying it is vital students go to school regularly.

New government data reveals the increasing absence rate is reflected across the South West and country as a whole.

Between 2018 to 2019 there was an absence rate of 4.9% in Plymouth, slightly higher than the South West rate of 4.8% and national rate of 4.7%.

Between 2021-2022, the absence rate jumped to 8.8% in Plymouth, 8% in the South West and 7.6% nationally.

Alan Yendell, headteacher of Plymstock School, said: "It's so much more than just being in those classrooms and gaining qualifications.

"But the more the children are here, the greater opportunities they have, and therefore they enrich themselves.

"It's about giving them a better opportunity to go on and secure really strong outcomes."

Plymstock School head teacher Alan Yendell says attendance is about more than just academic qualifications. Credit: ITV News

Plymouth City Council is launching a campaign to boost attendance figures for the year ahead.

Cllr Sally Cresswell, cabinet member for education, said: "Parents and carers need to know that every day matters and for every day absent, not only does the child miss out on the teaching taking place that day, but future learning and knowledge could be hampered.

"Being in school with friends and peers is so important for our children and young people's social development as well. Especially at the beginning of the Autumn Term.

“We all want our children and young people to have the best chances of achieving."

Classes are back for the start of a new school year. Credit: ITV News

Cllr Cresswell added: "Plymouth’s new attendance campaign encourages schools, pupils and their families to work together to get attendance back on track.

"Specialist support is available from a range of different teams and pupils and families can access help and advice on all matters relating to attendance.

“Our campaign highlights the fact that there’s simply no excuse for a child to miss school without a valid reason.

“We understand that children can feel anxious about school for many reasons. Let’s tackle the issue together and support them to attend school every day."