Concern over high Oxfordshire school truancy rates

Generic secondary school pupils Image copyright David Jones/PA
Image caption About 14% of secondary school pupils in Oxfordshire missed 10% of their classes

Concern has been expressed over truancy levels in Oxfordshire schools after it emerged the county has some of the worst rates in England.

Figures for the 2015/2016 autumn and spring terms showed the county ranked in the lowest performing 25%.

About 14% of secondary school pupils skipped 10% of their classes, compared with 12.3% of pupils nationally.

The council said the responsibility was largely that of the organisations behind the county's academies.

Following a meeting of the county council performance and scrutiny committee on Thursday, councillor John Howson said: "Frankly, the regional schools commissioner - the civil servant responsible for academies in Oxfordshire - needs to mount an inquiry into this.

"In the past I'm sure the council, as the local authority, would not have taken this without delving into what the consequences were."

'Persistent absence'

The Department for Education figures, released in October, show 4,319 Oxfordshire pupils were classed as being "persistently absent" during the autumn and spring terms recorded.

As part of new Oxfordshire children's services all schools - including those under academy control - will now have a nominated community support worker in a bid to resolve absences.

The children's services comprise eight central hubs across the county, with support workers who will work alongside teachers and health workers to provide "early help for children".

Steve Harrod, the council's cabinet member for education, said: "The council has already written to schools offering to work with them to address the underlying causes of persistent absence... in addition the safeguarding board has picked up persistent absence as an issue and the council's new children's service will be supporting pupils in schools to help tackle the problem.

"If there is no improvement then there may be a case for the schools commissioner to step in."

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