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Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what recent steps the Government have taken to reduce levels of truancy; (204991)

(2) what recent steps the Government have taken to assist children rejoining education after a long period of absence;

(3) what recent steps the Government have taken to work with parents to reduce truancy.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply on 26 November 2007, Official Report, column 671W, to his previous question on this matter. Data for the 2006-07 school year show reductions in overall absence from all state-funded schools (6.49 per cent. compared to 6.96 per cent.), which is the lowest on record, and in persistent absence from state-funded secondary schools (6.7 per cent. compared to 7.1 per cent.). We are continuing our focus on reducing persistent absence across all local authorities and their schools, and on minimising avoidable absence through early identification of pupils developing patterns of absence and tackling the underlying causes of these patterns. We expect schools and local authorities to work with the pupils and their families on an individual basis to resolve the problems that cause the absence, with the support of other agencies and partners such as the local community, social care workers and the police, reintegrate into the school community and catch up with their peers.