Figures reveal high number of pupil absentees in Newham schools

Newham primary schools have the highest number of children missing lessons in London, according to the latest Department for Education (DfE) figures - but one school is the third best for attendance in the country.

Local authority data shows 1,114 primary school pupils - 4.1 per cent - are persistent absentees.

Newham secondary schools had the second highest number of persistent absentees in London with 1,282 students - 6.9 per cent - missing a significant number of lessons.

A child is defined as persistently absent if they miss more than a month of school or around 15 per cent or more of school time - an offence that carries a penalty fine for parents.

A DfE spokesperson said: “Too many children are still missing too many lessons.

“We must continue to tackle poor attendance and make sure every pupil gets a good education.”

A Newham Council spokesperson said they offer support to families facing difficulties by making home visits and arranging appointments at school or offices.

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They added: “We also accept that, particularly in the current economic climate, some families are enduring real hardships. “Our main priority is to work in partnership with parents, carers and pupils to raise the profile and importance of regular and punctual attendance at school.”

But St Joachim’s Roman Catholic School in Shipman Road, Custom House, beat the odds to gain the third best attendance rate for a primary school in the country with only 1.6 per cent of pupils absent last year and only 0.2 per cent of those classed as unauthorised.

Headteacher James Allen said attendance had improved at the school steadily over the last three or four years and the school has encouraged this by handing out End of Year Attendance awards and by running around 35 clubs.

Mr Allen said: “Attendance improved after we started running before-school clubs because that motivated the pupils and got them up and in school early because they wanted to play sport.

“We are chuffed with the result. For me personally as Headteacher, it’s means that the children enjoy coming to school because if they didn’t they’d vote with their feet like people do with everything else.”