Express & Star

Almost quarter of pupils in region's state schools missed 10 per cent of lessons last year

Almost a quarter of students in state schools across the Black Country and Staffordshire missed at least 10 per cent of their lessons last year, figures show.


Department for Education data showed 67,899 out of 290,936 – or 23 per cent – missed the time during the 2021-2022 academic year which was impacted by Covid-19.

The Association of School and College Leaders said schools work very hard to improve attendances but have received little support from councils due to Government cuts.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the ASCL, said that while absence rates were affected by the pandemic, "attendance continues to be extremely challenging".

This is due to "escalating rates of poor mental health, poverty, and abuse and neglect, which are compounded by an erosion in the provision of local support services over the past decade," she said.

Ms McCulloch added: "Schools work very hard to encourage good attendance but have little support as local authority attendance services have also reduced as a result of government cuts. We need a nationwide attendance strategy which supports struggling families and schools."

The figures show 8,707 out of 40,785 missed 10 per cent of lessons in Wolverhampton. It was 10,925 out of 43,885 in Walsall, 11,174 out of 43,085 in Dudley, 12,632 out of 54,189 in Sandwell and 24,461 out of 109,019 in Staffordshire.

Across England, 1.6 million pupils were persistently absent, more than double the 800,000 who missed at least 10% of their lessons in 2018-19. The persistent absent rate sat between 10 and 12 per cent in recent years but jumped to 22.5 per cent in the last academic year.

The coronavirus pandemic was the primary reason for the significant rise in pupil absences.

Ellie Mulcahy, director of research at think tank The Centre for Education and Youth, said the rise in pupil absence is "disturbing".

"We know that just a few days off school can have a serious impact on young people's later attainment," Ms Mulcahy added.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "The vast majority of children are in school and learning.

"We work closely with schools, trusts, governing bodies, and local authorities to identify pupils who are at risk of becoming, or who are persistently absent and working together to support those children to return to regular and consistent education."