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Rise in pupils missing school across Sussex
Every primary school pupil in Brighton and Hove skipped almost half a day of school without permission on average last spring term.
Figures from the Department of Education revealed thousands of children in the city played truant or were taken out of class by their parents.
Other excuses included illness and family holidays taken without authorisation from the school.
The proportion of half days skipped rose 17% compared to the same period last year.
Genuine Brighton and Hove City Council said schools in the city were “taking a hard line” and would only authorise absence if genuine reasons were given.
A spokesman said: “The number of sessions lost is not an indicator of truanting but of overall absence, which schools decide not to authorise.
“Brighton and Hove schools work in partnership with the local authority to identify patterns of poor attendance and take appropriate action where necessary, including legal proceedings.”
Across Sussex the percentage of school sessions missed without permission remained roughly the same compared to last year.
East Sussex figures were similar to Brighton and Hove with every child missing on average just under a half day of school last term.
Working with families
But in West Sussex, children were off school without permission far less and skipped on average only around a quarter of a day.
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “As a service we always look to work alongside schools and families in a supportive way to try and assess the root cause of non-attendance.
“With good engagement from the family and young person involved, we can ensure that a package of support is put in place to try and resolve the root issues.
“It is only when families do not engage with support offered by school or the Education Welfare Service that legal sanctions are considered.”
The Government is toughening the rules on absence to make it clear that schools should only give permission for term-time holidays in exceptional circumstances.
Ofsted is also now setting specific targets for boosting attendance in schools which have problems with absence.
From this September head teachers will be able to issue a £60 fine, up from a previous maximum of £50, if they believe a parent is allowing their child to miss too much school without a valid reason.
If the parent or carer fails to pay within 28 days the fine will doubled to £120, to be paid within 42 days.