School truancy levels in some parts of Derry are among the highest in the north, according to the latest government absenteeism figures.
Education minister John O’Dowd said a range of measures have been put in place over the last year to improve attendance records.
In June 2013 every school in the north was issued with a guide to best practice in relation to to managing pupil attendance.
But new figures revealed in the Stormont Assembly show that across the north almost 11% of post primary pupils have a less than 85% attendance record - that’s the level at which the Education Welfare Service is notified of a pupil’s poor attendance.
In some parts of Derry that figure rises to in excess of 20%.
The latest Department of Education figures show that in 2012/13 5.85% of primary school pupils in the city had an attendance record below 85% - the third highest of the north’s council areas.
At post primary the level of pupils with an attendance record of less than 85% stood at 12.2% - again the the third highest in the north behind Belfast and Larne council areas - or around one in every 8 pupils.
But that figure rises to around one in four in the Brandywell (24.6%), and one in five in Ebrington (21%), Creggan Central (19.9%) the Strand (19.3%) and Caw (19.2%) of the city’s electoral wards.
Mr O’Dowd said his department remains committed to tackling absenteeism and said measure are in place to address truancy.
“My Department’s circular number 2013/13, Attendance Guidance and Absence Recording by Schools, which was issued to schools in June 2013 provides schools with good practice, guidance and strategies to manage pupil attendance.
“My Department recommends that every school should have an attendance policy in place. Schools should refer pupils to the Education Welfare Service for support, if appropriate, if their attendance falls below 85% or if there is a cause for concern.
“Intervention by the Education Welfare Service is tailored to the individual child following the assessment of their circumstances including their needs, the parents/carer’s capacity to meet those needs and the family and environmental factors.
“Provision of advice and support, consideration of warnings or any onward referral is completely determined by the outcome of this assessment.”
The Minister said a Department of Education guide for parents had also been issued and was further available online. Attendance Matters - A Parent’s Guide to the parents/carers of all year 1 and year 8 pupils in September 2013.