'If children are to receive the best education possible, they must attend school,' she said. 'Taking advantage of a good education within a strong moral, spiritual and cultural context is essential if they are to be prepared effectively for entry to further or higher education or employment and for the responsibilities of adult life.'
The Government also has a part to play in the campaign against truancy, said Baroness Blatch. 'As evidence of the importance we attach to that campaign, we have established a Reducing Truancy Programme under the GEST scheme for 1993-94. We are funding projects to a total value of some £9.6 million in 71 English LEAs. We intend to continue that work in an expanded Truancy and Disaffected Pupils programme in the 1994-95 GEST programme. We have already had an excellent response from local authorities.'
The projects in this year's programme take a variety of forms, she said. In many areas, additional EWOs are being appointed to work with schools which have experienced difficulty in maintaining high levels of attendance or which have problems with post- registration truancy.
These tables - the first of their kind - will give maintained school data by LEA area, including both LEA maintained and self-governing schools. They will also show, for purposes of comparison, national averages for each sector - LEA, GM, CTC, independent, and the various types of special schools. This will provide, at a glance, comparative statistics on the scale of unauthorised absence in different categories of school.
Baroness Blatch said OFSTED has agreed to undertake a special study of a number of schools this academic year to make sure that truancy and its recording is being taken as seriously as most schools already view it.