School absenteeism on the rise in Bucks

Data received from a recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that Buckinghamshire has seen an increase 8% of penalty notices issued for school absenteeism in the last year.

By Sam Dean
Friday, 21st February 2020, 2:06 pm
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 2:07 pm

The FOI, submitted by The Knowledge Academy, the world's largest provider of classroom and online training courses, revealed that on average there had been an increase of penalty notices of 25% between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Gloucestershire experienced the highest increase with a rise of 183.8%, and only Oxfordshire was able to report a decrease in notices over the specified period.

Neighbouring unitary authority Milton Keynes also had one of the largest increases, reporting a figure of 57.6%.

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Bucks County Council's real numbers were 1,720 penalty notices issued in the latest year against 1,592 in the previous year. This equates to an increase in revenue from £67,050 to £76,200.

School absenteeism, hardly surprisingly, is often related to poorer academic performance, but various studies have also linked it to anxiety, depression and an increased risk of criminal behaviour such as vandalism and substance abuse.

A Buckinghamshire County Council spokesman said: “Regular attendance at school is vital to help children get the best possible start in life. Children who miss school more often than others often fall behind, and given the evidenced link between good school attendance and academic results, we are focused on doing all we can to collectively tackle poor attendance.

“All local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure parents and carers carry out their legal responsibility to make sure their children receive a suitable education between the ages of 5 and 16. This also helps us carry out an important safeguarding role for children of school age. A penalty notice is a fine for parents or carers if they fail to ensure that their child/children attend school regularly. The County Council is responsible for issuing penalty notices on behalf of schools in the county.

“We work closely with schools to provide advice and support on promoting good, regular attendance and reducing unauthorised absences. We also support families who have difficulties making sure their children attend school regularly.

“Where parents do not ensure the regular school attendance of their children, the council may issue a penalty notice or take other statutory action through the courts to secure regular school attendance. All schools in Buckinghamshire have their own attendance policies.

“More information on school attendance is on our website."