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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10743: Adam Tomkins (Glasgow)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 14 August 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to address the number of unauthorised student absences in schools.

Answered by: John Swinney 29 August 2017

Parents are ultimately responsible for ensuring their child’s regular attendance at school. Schools will authorise absences where they are satisfied there is a legitimate explanation. Where no satisfactory explanation is given, an unauthorised absence will be recorded. When a child is regularly absent, the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 allows local authorities to impose an Attendance Order on a parent if they cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for their child’s absence. This Order will require the parent to ensure their child regularly attends at the school named in the Order. Failure to comply can result in criminal proceedings being brought against the parent.

The attendance rate in Scottish schools has remained steady at just over 93% since 2007, with pupils' rate of attendance increasing from 93.1 per cent in 2010-11 to 93.7 per cent in 2014-15. The Scottish Government recognises that, to promote good attendance at school, pupils must feel included, engaged and involved in their education. This is a fundamental principle to achievement and attainment at school. Absence from school, whatever the cause, disrupts learning.

To support this we published, with key stakeholders, “Included, Engaged and Involved Part 1: attendance in Scottish schools”. This document provides guidance to schools, communities and local authorities on how to promote engagement and motivation, including among those who may be at risk of poor attendance.