A TENTH of primary and secondary students in state-run schools were absent the week before the Easter Holidays in Bolton.

Figures from the Department for Education show that more than 2,000 pupils were not in school in the last week of March – equating to 9.7 per cent.

This is a rise in number of absentees compared to the week to February 10, where the figure was 8.2 per cent.

Broken down into primary and secondary students, in the last week of March 7.6 per cent of students were absent from primary schools, and 12.9 per cent did not attend secondary schools.

A further 24.3 per cent did not attend special schools in the area.

This is a worrying trend throughout the nation, and compared to the national average, Bolton’s figures are actually better than the 11.4 per cent of students that did not attend school that week.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “Across the UK, schools have been seeing lower attendance rates than before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, there has been a strong partnership approach between Bolton Council, Public Health and local school leaders.

“Whilst Bolton’s attendance is better than the national average, we continue to work closely with schools to improve attendance rates and ensure children are benefitting from being back in the classroom.”

Last year, more fines were issued to Bolton parents after their children missed school than almost anywhere else in England.

READ: School absences fines issued in Bolton among the highest in the country

Department for Education data shows that 1,433 penalty notices were issued to Bolton parents for a child’s poor attendance in 2020-21 – though measures did not apply for two months when schools were not open to all pupils.

Of those fines last year, 858 (60 per cent) were for unauthorised family holidays.

The Bolton News: Prince Charles delivering the Queen's speech for the first time. Credit: PAPrince Charles delivering the Queen's speech for the first time. Credit: PA

These figures were released just before yesterday’s the Queen’s speech (May 10), delivered for the first time by The Prince of Wales, in which reforms to Education were announced.

Prince Charles said: “Reforms to education will help every child fulfil their potential wherever they live, raising standards and improving the quality of schools and higher education.”

The matter of attendance was one of the topics addressed in the speech.

All schools will be required to publish an attendance policy, and a register for children not currently in school will be introduced to improve safeguarding of vulnerable pupils.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said that the Schools Bill lacked “aspiration and ambition”.

He added: “It is characteristic of the Bill’s piecemeal and patchwork approach to the crisis of our system that it singles out student attendance for attention, while overlooking problems of mental health and exam factory culture that contribute to poor attendance.”