§ Mr. Pawsey
To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) what plans he has to reduce the incidence of truancy in schools;
(2) what is the estimated level of truancy in secondary schools (a) nationally and (b) by reference to local education authority area.
§ Mr. Forth
Truancy is a serious matter. It undermines the educational process and contributes to the juvenile crime rate. Figures are not collected centrally, but truancy is known to be particularly prevalent in the latter years of secondary schooling, where as many as one in five pupils in some schools truant. The Department is currently supporting through the grants for education support and training—GEST—programme projects in a number of LEAs designed to improve school attendance.
My right hon. Friend intends to make truancy a priority for the Department. In order to establish the full extent of the problem, maintained schools are required, from August 1992, to publish their rates of unauthorised absence. From this school year reports to parents on individual pupils will also record instances of truancy. In 65W accordance with the parents charter commitment, the Government intend to require the collection of truancy information for local comparative tables from 1993.