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Article by David Ottewell and Alasdair Hooper: A school in Harlow has been named as the school with the worst attendance record in Essex last school year.

New figures from the Department for Education show pupils at Sir Charles Kao UTC, soon to become the Burnt Mill Academy Trust (BMAT), were absent without permission for more than one in eight lessons.

The school’s overall unauthorised absence rates for the 2016/17 school year – the proportion of half-days missed without good reason – stood at 13.2 per cent.

That level of absence was significantly higher than the Essex school with the second-worst record in Essex, Crays Hill Primary School in Billericay, which had an unauthorised absence rate standing at 12.7 per cent. Sir Charles Kao had the highest unauthorised absence rate for Essex Overall, the 96 pupils at Sir Charles Kao UTC missed a combined total of 3,826 half-days in 2016/17 through unauthorised absences.

The Harlow school, which was situated on the campus of Harlow College, will become a Stem Academy – part of the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust.

Despite the most recent OFSTED report in April 2017, which concluded the school required improvement in all areas, the school claims that the Department for Education has already noted the rapid improvements in behaviour, attendance and attainment at the school.

Other Essex schools that featured in the top ten list of highest unauthorised absence rates in Essex included New Campus Basildon Studio School, The Basildon Upper Academy and the Basildon Lower Academy. The lowest rate was the Chelmsford County High School for Girls, where just 21 sessions were missed through unauthorised absence, which is less than 0.1 per cent of the total.

The school that had the worst record in Essex for overall absence – both unauthorised and authorised – was Crays Hill Primary. In total, 36.8 per cent of half-days at the school were missed – more than one in three. However, authorised absences are non-attendances that have been given permission by the relevant school. They can be authorised for a variety of reasons, most commonly illness, doctor’s appointments or dentist appointments.

Essex schools with the worst record for unauthorised absence in 2016/17

School

Location

Percentage of all possible half-days missed through

unauthorised absence

Sir Charles Kao UTC Harlow 13.2
Crays Hill Primary School Billericay 12.7
New Campus Basildon Studio School Basildon 9.2
The Basildon Upper Academy Basildon 6.3
The Basildon Lower Academy Basildon 5.2
Castle View School Canvey Island 4.8
Great Clacton Church of England (Voluntary Aided) Junior School Clacton-on-Sea 4.4
William Read Primary School Canvey Island 4.4
Maple Grove Primary School Basildon 3.9
Hylands School Chelmsford 3.9

Essex schools with the worst record for overall absence (authorised or unauthorised) in 2016/17

School

Location

Percentage of all possible half-days missed through

absence

Crays Hill Primary School Billericay 36.8
Sir Charles Kao UTC Harlow 23.6
New Campus Basildon Studio School Basildon 14.7
The Basildon Upper Academy Basildon 8.4
Parkwood Academy Chelmsford 8.2
The Deanes Thundersley 8.1
Tolleshunt D'Arcy St Nicholas CofE VA Primary School Maldon 8.1
Hylands School Chelmsford 7.7
The Basildon Lower Academy Basildon 7.4
Kelvedon Hatch Community Primary School Kelvedon Hatch 7.4

Article by David Ottewell and Alasdair Hooper, The Echo

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