Commenting on Dundee Schools Having the Highest Absence Rate in Scotland

Official statistics published last week by the Scottish Government include figures for the attendance and absence of school pupils. 

In 2012/13 the percentage attendance in Scottish local authority schools ranged from the highest 95.5 per cent (East Renfrewshire) to the lowest 92.3 per cent (Dundee City). This means Dundee has the highest pupil absence rate in Scotland in the last complete school year. A 3.2% difference may not seem much but translated into days missed over a year it stacks up. In fact it means that on average, every pupil in Dundee misses more than one week more than pupils in East Renfrewshire. No wonder the exam results are better in East Renfrewshire.

Looking more closely at the figures for Dundee, it means that on average each pupil in Dundee misses fifteen days or three weeks of schooling a year. This adds up to almost one year of schooling lost by every pupil during their 5-16 compulsory school years.

It is very disappointing that Dundee Schools are at the bottom of the national league table for their absence rate. Any day of absence from school is a day of missed learning opportunities. If we want to increase the attainment of our pupils, we need to reduce the number of days at school that are lost through absence for reasons that are avoidable.

Right now we need some explanation of what is going wrong and why the absence rate has been increasing in Dundee but decreasing elsewhere.

I have written to the Council's Committee Clerk to ask that this issue is discussed at the next meeting of the Education Committee. This can't be allowed to be brushed under the carpet. The Education Directorate need to explain how they intend to bring down the number of lost days of learning in our schools.