Nearly six out of ten Bradford primary schools suffer truancy rates above the national average.

A total of 92 out of 159 primaries – nearly 58 per cent – had above the average individual truancy level of 2.4 per cent between September 2007 and last May.

The rates at the worst schools were between 2.5 and 17 per cent – with the numbers ranging from three to 69 pupils.

The statistics have come from a study by the Council’s Young People and Education Improvement Committee.

Committee chairman, Councillor Andrew Thornton, said: “The levels of persistent absence in some primary schools is particularly worrying and needs to be tackled.

“We recommended the setting up of programmes similar to those already tackling this issue in secondary schools.

“I’m pleased to see that this has been acted upon by Education Bradford. In that regard Bradford is ahead of the game nationally.

“One thing is absolutely certain – how fast and how far these levels of persistent absence are brought down will be something that the committee will keep coming back to until it is sorted.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, Labour group education spokesman, said the figures highlighted an “extremely serious problem”.

He said: “You can put all the money you like into schools but if you don’t get support from communities you will not get anywhere.”

He said some schools felt there had been an “inconsistent approach” to the problem from education services officials.

Councillor David Ward, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: “They are worrying but I am very sceptical about the figures. We are very efficient at recording here in Bradford.”

An Education Bradford spokesman said: “The schools are being specifically targeted and monitoring procedures are being developed.

“There is an objective that no Bradford primary school will be above the national average for persistent absence.”

Education Bradford had introduced a series of measures to achieve this, he said, including targeted deployment of the education social work service; monthly reporting on the levels of absence and persistent absence; the piloting of a community attendance strategy with ten primary schools in BD3; advising schools on preventative measures and reviewing the attendance of children in care on a weekly basis.

Nine parents in Bradford were ordered to take lessons in bringing up their children after letting them get away with truancy or bad behaviour in 2007.