Four Manchester schools among worst for absenteeism

Four Manchester schools have been named in the 10 worst in England for absenteeism.

Manchester Creative and Media Academy for Boys, in Moston, was top of the list with 21.5% of pupils being persistently absent in 2009-10.

Barry Fishwick, executive principal, said the situation at the school was improving and that the figure was now down to 17%.

He said the academy would not be in the same position next year.

"This is the last time that this academy will be registered as the worst in the country. This will not happen again."

The academy, which has 602 pupils, was created in 2009 for those aged 11-19 wanting to specialise in media and the creative arts.

Manchester Health Academy in Wythenshawe was also included in the list, in fourth place. The school recorded 20% of its pupils as being persistently absent in 2009-10.

Manchester Enterprise Academy, also in Wythenshawe, was named in sixth place with 19.4% and Plant Hill Arts College, in Blackley, was in 10th place with 16.8%.

Attendance a 'key priority'

The figures come from school performance tables published by the Department for Education.

Kieran McDermott, deputy director of children's services at Manchester City Council, said improving school attendance was a "key priority".

"We've been working closely with schools over the last couple of years to crack down on unauthorised absence," he said.

"Latest figures for this academic year show that overall attendance in both primary and secondary schools is improving and that far fewer pupils have been persistently absent in our schools since September.

"Although the level of persistent absence by pupils is still a challenge in some schools, the rate at which overall attendance in the city's schools is improving is very encouraging and we are confident that further improvements will be made this year.

"Our crackdown on truancy continues this term with doorstep blitzes that will see attendance officers go round to the homes of pupils who don't turn up for school in the morning to find out why.

"Making sure pupils are in school is actually the job of parents - and parents in the city need to understand that they have a legal responsibility to get their children into school. If they don't, we will - if necessary - take action against them."

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